During a town hall held in his district of Racine, Wisconsin, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's first question was about President Donald Trump's recent divisive comments regarding the situation in Charlottesville.
Ryan wasted no time mincing words, saying that he thought the president's speech on the Monday after the incidents was “pitch perfect,” admitting that the next day, during a press conference in Trump Tower, the president made comments that were “much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing.”
“And I do think he could have done better,” the speaker said.
He then referenced Trump's response to the peaceful protests later that week in Boston, saying that his commendation of those protests was “a good start” to making amends for the poor showing at the press conference. Doubling down on those sentiments, Ryan referenced the president's remarks to the nation just minutes before his town hall began, saying it was “exactly what a president needs to say, what we needed to hear.”
“So I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation, or at the very least moral ambiguity,” Ryan said, revisiting a sentiment from moments earlier, adding “when we need extreme moral clarity.”
The speaker then echoed the sentiments of a Facebook post he shared earlier Monday in which he pointed out that this was an American issue, not a partisan one.
“Every single one of us needs to unify and stand up against this repulsive, repugnant, vile bigotry,” he said at the town hall Monday evening. “That is so important.”
Hosting the town hall was CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who took a moment to clarify on the questions asked, pointing out that it was, in fact, about the reluctance of some to condemn some of Trump's comments and would Ryan do so.
“I have a hard time believing, if you're standing in a crowd to protest something and you see, you know, all these anti-Semitic slogans, and 'Heil Hitlers' and swastikas, you're not a good person if you're there,” Ryan said.
Ryan rounded out the question by dodging a question about whether Trump had “done enough” in making up for his press conference snafu by saying “I don't think any of us have done enough.”
“I think we all have a lot more to do,” the speaker said. “I think we have a lot more to do to make sure these guys don't get normalized.”