Donald Trump on Tuesday declined to endorse a pair of Republican heavyweights -- House Speaker Paul Ryan and former presidential nominee John McCain -- in their primary fights, CNN reported.
Ryan and McCain face long-shot challengers in their respective primary races in Wisconsin and Arizona, but their party's presidential nominee would not bless them in an interview with The Washington Post.
"I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I'm just not quite there yet. I'm not quite there yet," Trump said of Ryan, according to CNN.
As for McCain a former naval aviator who was shot down and tortured during the Vietnam War, the Republican nominee said he has "never been there with John McCain because I've always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets."
While both Ryan and McCain have endorsed Trump, they have both had tensions with him.
Since then, Ryan has been critical of Trump, most recently over a controversial tweet which featured a picture of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton superimposed over a pile of cash, next to a red six-pointed star, which some claimed was a Star of David – a fact which Trump rejected.
At that time, McCain urged Trump to "retract" his prisoners of war criticism, in a sensitive topic given that McCain was himself the target of Trump's criticism, and likewise called for him to stop his personal attacks.
Ryan faces Paul Nehlen in Wisconsin next week. Trump's phrasing -- "I'm not quite there yet" -- echoes comments Ryan made to CNN in May when he said he wasn't yet ready to back his party's standard-bearer.
Trump claimed in the Post interview that Ryan had sought his endorsement, which he was only giving "very serious consideration." Zack Roday, a Ryan campaign spokesman, quickly pushed back against Trump's claim, saying, "Neither Speaker Ryan nor anyone on his team has ever asked for Donald Trump's endorsement. And we are confident in a victory next week regardless."
A message left by CNN with the office of McCain, who faces a challenge from his right at the end of the month from former state Sen. Kelli Ward, was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.
Both Ryan and McCain in recent days have sharply criticized Trump over his latest controversy, his disparaging remarks about the Muslim parents of Humayun Khan, a U.S. Army captain who died in the Iraq War, noted CNN.
Ryan reiterated that he rejects Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslim travel to the U.S. after Trump took heat for criticizing Khan's parents.
McCain in particular was harsh, saying Trump did not have an "unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us."