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Donald Trump, Paul Ryan 'committed' to unifying GOP

By
Eric DuVall
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks about his meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on May 12, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks about his meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on May 12, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- House Speaker Paul Ryan stopped short of a full endorsement of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump after a face-to-face meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill, but in a joint statement the two said they are "committed" to unifying a fractured Republican Party.

Speaking after the meeting, Ryan called Trump "warm and genuine" but reiterated he has not endorsed Trump's campaign.

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"While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize there are many important areas of common ground," the statement from Trump and Ryan reads. "We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there's a great opportunity to unify out party and win this fall and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal. ... This was our first meeting, but it was a very positive step toward unification."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who also attended the meeting, called it a "positive step toward party unity."

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Asked by reporters during a press conference afterward, Ryan said the process of bringing the party together will take longer than one meeting.

"It takes time," Ryan said. "I don't want to have some fake unification process here."

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The sit-down followed Ryan's comment to CNN last week that he was "not ready" to endorse Trump. The remark underscored the reservations many Republicans have about turning over the party to a standard-bearer who has frequently flouted both party orthodoxy and political norms.

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For Trump, winning over Ryan would send a sign to the remaining holdouts in the GOP that he meets enough of their requirements to win their support.

Trump will need the party's backing, especially when it comes to fundraising. The billionaire real estate mogul has paid for his own primary campaign, but now must build a fundraising apparatus that can bring in more than $1.5 billion in just six months to pay for the general election.

For Ryan, the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee and the highest elected Republican in the country, deciding how best to handle Trump comes with potential pitfalls. Ryan has made clear his first priority is to preserve Republican control of the House. His reluctance to endorse Trump was seen by many as providing political cover to fellow Republicans in swing districts where moderate voters have expressed reservations about Trump's candidacy.

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Ryan has also been a leading voice on matters of policy in Republican circles and Trump has repeatedly staked out positions that do not align with Ryan's conservative vision for the economy and foreign affairs.

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Increasingly, however, Ryan has less wiggle room in at least accepting Trump as the nominee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has endorsed Trump, as have a group of influential House committee chairmen.

Outside the Ryan-Trump meeting, demonstrators for and against Trump faced off.

Trump meets with House Speaker Paul Ryan from Medill Washington on Vimeo.

After his meeting with Ryan and Priebus on Thursday morning, Trump met separately with House and Senate Republican leadership.

Kierra Gray of Medill News Service contributed to this report.

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