Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin disclosed during a town hall that he was disappointed by President Donald Trump's remarks about a white nationalist rally that spiraled into violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. During the same forum, Ryan also dismissed the possibility of censuring the president for his controversial comments.
On Aug. 21, Ryan sat down for a town hall in his home district of Racine, Wisconsin, moderated by CNN reporter Jake Tapper. One constituent asked the House Speaker to directly condemn Trump's remarks about Charlottesville.
"I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday (Aug. 15) when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity," Ryan responded, according to CNN.
"You're not a good person if you're there," Ryan added, referencing the participants in the white nationalist rally, according to New York Magazine.
On Aug. 15, Trump ignited controversy when he asserted that counter protesters shared equal culpability for violence during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12.
"I do think there's blame on both sides ... you also had people that were very fine people on both sides," Trump said during a press conference, according to CNBC.
The president also asserted that some participants in the white nationalist rally were not racists, even though they were marching alongside Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and alt-right members.
"You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?" Trump continued. "And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly."
That afternoon, Ryan took to social media to unequivocally condemn the white nationalists while refraining from directly rebuking Trump's comments.
"We must be clear," Ryan tweeted out on Aug. 15. "White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity."
On Aug. 21, Ryan elaborated on his condemnation of white nationalists hours before his town hall.
"I still firmly believe this hate exists only on the fringes," Ryan wrote on his official Facebook page. "But so long as it exists, we need to talk about it ... That is why we all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question."
During the town hall, Ryan was asked whether he believed Trump needed to publicly apologize for his comments about Charlottesville.
"I just think he needs to do better," Ryan replied, New York Magazine reports.
Rabbi Dena Feingold, a family friend of Ryan's, asked the House Speaker if he would support a House vote to censure Trump for his controversial remarks.
“I will not support that,” Ryan said. “I think that would be -- that would be so counterproductive. If we descend this issue into some partisan hack-fest, into some bickering against each other, and demean it down to some political food fight, what good does that do to unify this country?”