Ryan: If Trump asks, I'll step down

House Speaker says he will step down as a co-chairman of the GOP convention if Trump wishes.

Ben Ariel ,

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Monday that if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants him to step down as a co-chairman of the GOP convention, he will respect his wishes.

"He's the nominee. I'll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention," Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview, adding he hopes he and Trump can begin to get to know each other when they meet later this week.

"I just want to get to know the guy ... we just don't know each other," said Ryan, who last week announced he wasn't ready yet to support his party's presumptive nominee.

"I never said never. I just said (not) at this point. I wish I had more time to get to know him before this happened. We just didn't," he clarified Monday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview.

Ryan added his comments last week were him simply speaking his mind. He dismissed the criticism from Trump supporter Sarah Palin that he has his eye on the White House in 2020.

"I would not have become speaker of the House if I had 2020 aspirations. If I really wanted to run for president, I could have run in 2012 and 2016. The speaker is not exactly a good stepping stone for president. I think people who know me know that is not my aspiration," he told the Milwaukee newspaper.

Ryan rejected rumors that Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who picked Ryan as his running mate, is being courted to reconsider jumping into this year's presidential race as an independent candidate, saying he was vehemently opposed to a third-party or independent presidential bid.

"I've made it very clear to people publicly and privately I think an independent run by anyone would be a disaster. I think that's a bad idea," he said. "We need to win the White House and keep Congress. And having an independent run by anyone would defeat that purpose -- would defeat that goal."

The speaker said that in taking his stance on Trump his goal is to work toward real unity, and not "fake" unity.

"We have right now a disunified Republican Party. We shouldn't sweep it under the rug without addressing it. That would be to our detriment in the fall," he said.

Last week, shortly after Ryan’s announcement that he was not yet ready to back Trump, the billionaire responded by saying he himself was not ready to support the Speaker’s agenda.

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

“They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!” he added.