WASHINGTON ― A day after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced his retirement from Congress, he steadfastly refused to acknowledge whether concerns about President Donald Trump contributed to his decision, in a sit-down interview on “CBS This Morning.”
Asked Thursday by CBS’ Gayle King if “Trump fatigue” was a factor in his decision not to seek re-election, Ryan quickly said “no.” Then he immediately repeated talking points about his accomplishments as speaker and his desire to be more than “a weekend dad” to his children.
King pressed for a more definitive answer, asking Ryan why he didn’t more forcefully criticize or condemn Trump’s actions. Ryan has regularly faced criticism for his lukewarm responses to incendiary Trump comments and policy proposals.
But Ryan again declined to directly comment on the president, saying he does not wish to “score points,” and believes he and Trump “have a very good dialogue.”
“I decided to talk to the president than about the president,” he said. “I have a much better result in speaking personally with him, rather than on TV.”
Trump met with Ryan and other congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday night, and tweeted a photo of the gathering.
King, noting that all of those in the photo are white men, asked if Ryan plans to do more to improve diversity in the Republican Party.
“When I look at that picture, Mr. Speaker, I have to say, I don’t see anyone that looks like me, in terms of color or gender,” King said. “When I look at the picture, I don’t feel very celebratory. I feel very excluded.”
“I don’t like that you feel that way,” Ryan answered. “We need more minorities, more women in our party.” He pointed to Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), one of the few GOP women of color in Congress.
Ryan told King he hopes to devote more time to making the GOP more inclusive after he leaves Congress. For now, he said, he still has “a busy day job.”