Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, says he won’t endorse two political titans in his own party: Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain.
Trump’s refusal to throw his support behind Ryan and McCain signifies further tension within the GOP, recently highlighted at the RNC two weeks ago.
Ryan and McCain both face tough races in their respective states of Wisconsin and Arizona in upcoming primary elections. Both leaders have endorsed Trump – to the surprise of many within their political circles – in an effort to present a unified front as Trump faces Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said Ryan’s camp reached out, but Trump wavered when asked about an endorsement. “I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” he said. “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.”
Zack Roday, a spokesperson for Ryan’s campaign, denied asking for Trump’s support, according to CNN: “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.”
When it comes to McCain, Trump told The Post 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.”
His comment about McCain, a veteran and former war hero, comes on the heels of Trump’s public lashing for controversial remarks he made about the family of Humayun Khan, an American Muslim solider who died in the Iraq War. Khan’s father, Khizr, gave a heartfelt message at the DNC criticizing Trump, saying that in comparison to his son, Trump “sacrificed nothing and no one.”
In the days following Khan’s speech, Trump went on multiple tirades against the family in public and on social media.
McCain, along with a group of Gold Star Families – relatives who lost an immediate family member in war – called for Trump to apologize. He has not.
Trump faces a flurry of criticism within his own party, as a handful of Republicans have either left or resigned their vote to Clinton.
President Obama spoke out on Tuesday, questioning GOP party leaders who have aligned with Trump and calling him “unfit” to be president.