He added: “That is the guttural core of what I would call the party base right now, the Trump base.”
Ryan, who did not run for reelection in 2018, noted that he “didn’t have the best relationship” with Trump during the 2016 campaign. One month before the election, Ryan called off plans to campaign with Trump in Wisconsin, saying that he was “sickened” by Trump’s lewd comments about women in a 2005 conversation with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that was captured on video.
But Ryan said Sunday that after Trump’s victory, he reevaluated whether he should publicly criticize the president.
“What I learned was you’re far more effective, far better, keeping it private,” he told Woodruff, asked why more Republicans don’t spar publicly with Trump. “You’ll have far more success on things keeping it private than having a public spat.”
Ryan also argued that Trump’s combative online persona actually helps him rather than hurts him among his base.
“And I know people see, ‘Oh my God, this Twitter,’ and the things he said about this person or that person just drives people nuts,” Ryan said. “What that base Republican voter sees: This guy is not backing down and he’s fighting for me.’”
“And setting a good example for children, for the next generation?” Woodruff responded, prompting laughter and some applause from the crowd.
Ryan took a sip of water before responding. “I answered your question,” he said.
“I’m sorry?” Woodruff replied.
“I said, I answered your question,” Ryan said.