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Saturday 22 October 2016

Donald Trump 'surprised' by Paul Ryan's rebuff

Published 06/05/2016 | 00:21

Paul Ryan has refused to support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president (AP)
Paul Ryan has refused to support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president (AP)
Paul Ryan, right, addresses a rally in Burlington, Wisconsin (AP)

Donald Trump has said he was surprised by House Speaker Paul Ryan's rebuff of him as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

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"He talks about unity but what is this about unity?" he said in a nationally broadcast interview.

Mr Ryan's declaration that he was not yet ready to embrace Mr Trump sent shockwaves through the very Republican establishment that the New York billionaire is asking for help as he transitions from the primary season to a general-election campaign, most likely against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"I was really surprised by it," Mr Trump said in a phone-interview with Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends. He added: "It's not a good thing. It's something the party should get solved quickly."

Mr Trump said he will meet with Mr Ryan next week, possibly as early as Wednesday. As for choosing a running mate, Mr Trump would say only that the person will not be a Democrat.

He had indicated earlier this week following his win in the Indiana primary that he would likely settle on a political person with Washington experience - someone who could help him get legislation through Congress.

"I'm going to pick a Republican and we'll have a tremendous victory," Mr Trump said on Friday, noting he was particularly pleased to have the backing of former 2016 presidential campaign rival Rick Perry of Texas.

When asked about backing Mr Trump, Mr Ryan told CNN on Thursday: "I'm not there right now," although he hoped to be eventually. "I think what is required is that we unify this party," Mr Ryan said.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump's advisers commenced conversations with the Republican National Committee (RNC) on coordinating fundraising and tapping into the committee's extensive voter data file and nationwide get-out-the-vote operation.

RNC officials sent a draft of a joint fundraising proposal to the Trump campaign on Thursday that details how they would divide donations between the campaign, the national committee, the national convention committee and several state parties. The agreement, standard practice in modern-day campaigns, is expected to be finalised in the coming days.

Mr Trump on Thursday named a finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, a private investor with ties to New York and Hollywood who has never led a major political fundraising team.

Like his new boss, Mr Mnuchin has a record of giving both to Republicans and Democrats, including Democrat Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential run.

Mr Trump also has received a cool reception from the 2012 Republican standard-bearer, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former president George W Bush. Neither Mr Bush nor his father, former president George HW Bush have embraced Mr Trump, and neither plans to attend the party convention in Cleveland in July.

The divisiveness within the top echelons of the party sends an unmistakable signal to Republican fundraising networks, which include most of the party's best-connected donors.

"You might have a lot of these donors sit on the sidelines," said Spencer Zwick, who led Mr Romney's fundraising efforts and now serves as Mr Ryan's national finance chairman.

Mr Trump has not yet ruled out accepting public financing for his general-election effort. Taking public money would dramatically limit how much he can spend this fall.

The billionaire acknowledges he would have to sell some of his holdings to muster the hundreds of millions of dollars for a general-election bid, something he says he does not necessarily want to do.

Meanwhile, Mr Ryan is positioning himself to play a central role in helping to protect vulnerable House and Senate candidates heading into the general election. The speaker has long been working on an "agenda project" that could give Republicans something to run on independently from their presidential nominee.

"He's constantly out there talking about his agenda," Mr Zwick said of Mr Ryan, adding: "Many people aren't sure what the Trump agenda is yet."

Mr Trump and Mr Ryan have publicly clashed in the past. Mr Ryan rebuked Mr Trump for plans to bar Muslims from the country and when he was slow to disavow former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Mr Trump told a crowd in South Carolina in February that Mr Ryan doomed the Republican presidential ticket four years ago by saying entitlement programmes need reform.

Mr Ryan acknowledged the mogul had "tapped into something in this country that was very powerful. And people are sending a message to Washington that we need to learn from and listen to".

"But at the same time, now that we have a presumptive nominee who is going to be our standard-bearer, I think it's very important that there's a demonstration that our standards will be beared," Mr Ryan said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebu broke with Mr Ryan, declaring that he supports Mr Trump as the party's presidential nominee.

Next week's meeting, Mr Priebus said, will "start the process of unifying".

"Paul's just being honest," Mr Priebus said of the House speaker. "He says he's not there yet, but he wants to get there."

Mr Priebus continued: "It's going to take some time in some cases for people to work through differences."

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