Ryan disavows Trump racist comments

2016-06-07 19:02
Paul Ryan (File, AP)

Paul Ryan (File, AP)

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Washington - House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday that Donald Trump made the "textbook definition of a racist comment" in saying an American-born judge isn't qualified to preside over a case because of his Mexican heritage.

"I regret those comments he made. Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment," Ryan said at a news conference. "I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable."

But Ryan, who endorsed Trump only last week after a lengthy delay, went on to say: "But do I believe Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not."

"I believe that we have more common ground on the policy issues of the day, and we have more likelihood of getting our policies enacted with him than we do with her," Ryan said.

"But I do absolutely disavow those comments, I think they're wrong, I think they're wrongheaded, and the thinking behind it is something I don't even personally relate to."

Trump has contended that US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a case alleging that Trump University fleeced students, can't judge him fairly because the judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Trump has been questioned repeatedly about his stance but has refused to retract his comments. Curiel was born in Indiana to parents who came from Mexico in the 1940s.

Squirm

Ryan made his comments at an event in a low-income neighbourhood of Washington, DC, where he was unveiling new proposals to fight poverty, the first piece in a six-plank governing agenda by the House GOP.

But instead of discussing his poverty proposals he was forced to deal with numerous questions on Trump, illustrating anew Trump's tendency to create troublesome distractions for members of his own party even as they are attempting to close ranks behind him. The flap over the judge is proving particularly problematic. Trump's provocative stance makes fellow Republican squirm, and they have taken turns denouncing it.

But while some others have sought to avoid calling Trump or his comments out-and-out racist, Ryan leveled the charge matter-of-factly while still attempting to steer the conversation back to his agenda.

"I'm going to defend our ideas, I'm going to defend our majority, and I think our likelihood of getting these ideas into law are far more likely if we are unified as a party," Ryan said. "And so I see it as my job as speaker of the House to help keep our party unified.

I think if we go into the fall as a divided party, we are going to lose, and that's why I am going to be focused on these ideas and these solutions and not attempt to defend the indefensible."

Read more on:    donald trump  |  paul ryan  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

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