Paul Ryan calls for 'unity' among Republicans

House Speaker says he cannot “pretend” the Republican party is unified, calls to bring everyone together.

Ben Ariel ,

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday he cannot “pretend” the Republican party is unified and acknowledged it will “take some work” to bring everyone together after the bruising primary, Fox News reported.

The comments come ahead of Ryan’s high-stakes sit-down with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

At the same time, Ryan – who so far has declined to endorse Trump – signaled an interest in bringing all the wings of the party together.

Speaking after a closed-door meeting with other House leaders and rank-and-file members, Ryan suggested, according to Fox News, that “to pretend we’re unified as a party” would mean going into the fall election at “half-strength.”

Rather, he said, he needs the party to be at “full-strength” and so wants to pursue “real unification” of all factions within the GOP.

“We cannot afford to lose this election to Hillary Clinton,” Ryan was quoted as having said.

Rank-and-file members have been at odds over Ryan’s announcement last week, when he said he was “not yet ready” to endorse Trump, who became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee when his last two opponents – Ted Cruz and John Kasich – dropped out of the race.

Some understand the speaker may not truly be ready, and also wants to check the pulse of his colleagues. Others worry that Ryan’s hesitation is costing the party valuable fundraising time – needed to prepare for an expected battle against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in the fall, noted Fox News.

Ryan and Trump are set to meet in person on Thursday. But the first step toward a potential reconciliation was Wednesday morning’s weekly conference for House Republicans – their first since Trump all but seized the nomination last week.

Asked after that meeting what he needs to hear to fully get behind Trump, Ryan said he and Trump will have that conversation.

“I don’t really know him,” he said. “We just need to get to know each other.”

He reiterated the party must “merge” and “unify.”

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.

Earlier this week the billionaire said he does not think it's necessary for the Republican party to be unified behind his presumptive nomination.

"We wanna bring the party together. Does the party have to be together? Does it have to be unified? I'm very different than everybody else -- perhaps that's ever run for office. I actually don't think so," said Trump.

"I think it would be better if it were unified," he added. "I think it would be-- there would be something good about it. But I don't think it actually has to be unified in the traditional sense."