WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence announced Wednesday he "strongly" endorses House Speaker Paul Ryan in his primary race a day after Donald Trump declined to do the same.
Presidential candidate Trump's comments that he was not ready endorse Ryan enraged Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a longtime Ryan friend, according to multiple media reports citing unnamed sources.
Pence, who is also close to Ryan after the two served together in the House, said Wednesday Ryan is a "strong conservative leader."
"I strongly endorse his re-election. He's a longtime friend, he's a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States to rebuild our military, to strengthen our economy and ensure that we have the kind of leadership in this country that will make America great again."
Trump told The Washington Post on Tuesday that he's "not quite there yet," when asked whether he is backing Ryan against a Tea Party challenger. The statement bore striking similarities to what Ryan said about Trump shortly after he effectively sealed the nomination.
Ryan has since come around to saying he will vote for Trump, though the nation's top Republican elected official has publicly rebuked Trump on several occasions for controversial statements on a Mexican-American judge, a proposal to ban Muslim immigration and his recent feud with the Muslim parents of a U.S. Army soldier who was killed fighting in Iraq.
Pence was asked about how his support for Ryan would jibe with Trump's reluctanceto back him and said the two men are still working to build a relationship.
"I think what Donald trump said is he is not there yet. These are two men that are building a great relationship and I am very confident that if Donald Trump is elected president and Paul Ryan is re-elected to Congress and as speaker of the House these men are going to do great things."
Priebus, who like Ryan, hails from Wisconsin, was an early supporter of Ryan's before either ascended to national office. Priebus was reportedly furious over Trump's statement to the Post.
Citing anonymous sources, NBC News described the RNC chairman as "apoplectic"; ABC News called the dust-up a sign of the growing feud in the GOP between those loyal to Trump and the rest of the party establishment. The New York Times quoted anonymous sources who described Priebus and other top Republicans as hamstrung over how to handle Trump.
Several news outlets said Priebus called Trump and his top campaign advisers to discuss the situation and express his displeasure.
The Times also said Priebus is considering several options to express his support for Ryan, the first major public break between Priebus and Trump after Priebus resisted calls to weigh in against the controversial candidate during the GOP primary. Instead, Priebus remained neutral and since Trump won the nomination has called on party leaders to unify in their bid to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.