In a press conference held Tuesday morning, Ryan cautioned against the Islamophobic sentiments that marked Trump’s speech on Monday. "There is an important distinction that every American needs to keep in mind," he said. "This is a war with radical Islam, it is not a war with Islam. The vast, vast majority of Muslims in the country and around the world are moderate, are peaceful, and are tolerant."
Rather than an outright ban on religious grounds, which Ryan said is "not in the country’s interest," the speaker of the House advocated for the implementation of a robust security test in order to ensure that those who gain legal entry into the country are "properly vetted."
But Ryan has been struggling to walk the line between what is clearly his distaste for Trump's brash style of politics and his need for voters to help him maintain the congressional majority Republicans hold.
Ryan’s endorsement of Trump continues to force the speaker of the House into uncomfortable positions
Ryan’s latest statement, though similar to what he said when Trump initially rolled out the Muslim ban in December, is more awkward now. Back then, the Republican Party was still in the middle of a contentious primary, and even though Trump was clearly leading, many conservatives held out hope that some other candidate would prevail.
Now Ryan has made remarks that put him directly at odds with Trump, but he has also said he'll vote for him.
Ryan’s support for Trump has been tepid from the start, with the GOP leader initially saying he would withhold his endorsement until Trump made efforts to rein in his divisive rhetoric and affirm his commitment to Republican conservatism.
However, as Matt Yglesias argued at the time, Ryan lacked the political leverage to oppose a candidate who was in the process of being loudly and definitively coronated by Ryan’s own base. As a result, the months leading up to the convention have seen Ryan forced into acts of political contortion, distancing himself from Trump’s most incendiary statements while maintaining public support for his party’s presumptive nominee.
It must be tiring.