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Paul Ryan: “I’m just not ready” to support Donald Trump

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BURLINGTON -- House Speaker Paul Ryan made a bombshell announcement on Thursday, May 5, saying that he could not yet support presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

"I’m not there right now, and I hope to though," Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper. "And I want to, but I think what is required is that we reunite this party."

Ryan became the latest Republican to distance himself from Trump, who effectively won the nomination when rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the race this week. The issue has divided the party, with other Republicans rallying around Trump this week.

Ryan pre-taped the interview, which aired as he participated in a campaign event in Burlington with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. Neither man mentioned Trump's name during speeches in front of several dozen reporters at the Veterans Terrace.

Afterward, Ryan refused to take questions from local reporters in his home district about his unwillingness to back Trump, saying the CNN interview "speaks for itself."

Trump responded later in the day with a statement posted to his website that was critical of Ryan.

Donald Trump responds to Paul Ryan

Donald Trump responds to Paul Ryan

"I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda," Trump said in the statement. "Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people."

Ryan's decision represented a break with Johnson, who has said he will support Trump as the Republican nominee.

Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson

Johnson also did not make himself available for questions after the Burlington event. A Johnson spokesman said the senator would instead be available on Friday.

Democrats pounced on Ryan and Johnson's different views, with a Democratic National Committee spokesman commenting, "Well, that was awkward." Johnson's challenger, Russ Feingold, told reporters in Green Bay that Johnson and Trump were similar.

Russ Feingold

Russ Feingold

"He and Donald Trump should campaign together, because they represent one view of the future of America," Feingold said. "And I and the candidate we will have represent a different view."

During the CNN interview, Ryan acknowledged that he was caught off-guard by Trump becoming the presumptive nominee so quickly. He expected the nominating process to be contested for at least another month, Ryan said.

"I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee," he told Tapper.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who was at the GOP event to introduce Ryan and Johnson, said beforehand that he wanted to hear Trump's policy positions before deciding whether to support him.

Vos told reporters that "it's too early to tell" whether having Trump at the top of the ticket this fall would affect Johnson's chances.

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