Newly-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said recently that although he has been critical in the past of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, he still thinks the billionaire real estate developer would make a better president than Hillary Clinton.
On Oct. 30, the Wisconsin Republican told ABC News that he stood by previous statements about Trump — including a past characterization of the the candidate’s comments on immigration as “extremely disrespectful" — but would still prefer him, or any other GOP presidential contender, to Clinton.
“Every one of these people would be a far better president than Hillary Clinton," Ryan said. “We’re having a good primary process. It's cathartic, it's helpful.”
Ryan became the front-runner for the Speaker of the House position after Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California pulled his name from consideration in the wake of Speaker John Boehner’s abrupt September resignation. Ryan was officially elected as House Speaker on Oct. 29.
“If I pick up where John Boehner left off, then I think we won't be successful,” he told ABC, suggesting that his party would have to learn to work with Democrats "without compromising [Republican] principles.”
Ryan’s comments about Trump aren’t without provocation. Trump went after the one-time Republican vice presidential nominee in 2011, calling Ryan’s budget plan a “death wish” for the party, Breitbart reported on Oct. 10.
Trump told CNBC at the time that Ryan’s budget plan could even cost running mate Mitt Romney the election.
“It is catastrophic what he’s done,” Trump said, according to Breitbart. “If they lose, it will be the single biggest reason why the Republicans lost: the Ryan plan.”
Trump later said that "perhaps" Ryan is a smart person, but "he is not a good chess player."
Trump seemed to take some of the edge off his tone as Ryan became the likely front-runner for the Speaker position following McCarthy’s exit.
“Paul Ryan is far from my first choice, but a very nice guy,” he tweeted in October, according to Breitbart. “The Republicans should go for tough and (very) smart this time – no games!”