Republican vice presidential nominee and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said this week that he supports “personal friend” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) ― but only after he was called out for dodging the question.
In a National Review profile published Thursday, Tim Alberta writes that “Pence declined three times to answer the question of whether Ryan should be reelected as speaker.”
“I’m not a member of the House Republican conference anymore,” Pence told Alberta. “I wouldn’t presume upon what the members of the conference choose.”
Later in the day, CNN asked Pence whether he supports Ryan, and Pence finally said yes.
“My respect for Paul Ryan is boundless and I support his re-election to Congress, and I support his re-election as speaker of the House,” he said.
Pence is scheduled to campaign with Ryan and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Saturday in Wisconsin, according to Politico.
“We are so grateful for Paul Ryan’s support for this ticket,” Pence said on CNN.
Ryan’s “support” has not been unequivocal: He has condemned Republican nominee Donald Trump on several occasions after Trump made combative or bigoted remarks. At the same time, Ryan has not formally withdrawn his endorsement of Trump, and he said this week that he has already voted for him.
Trump, for his part, has responded to Ryan’s criticism with attacks of his own, calling the speaker “very weak and ineffective” and “a man who doesn’t know how to win.”
National Review has more on how the feud has caused a rift between Ryan and Pence:
And then there’s Paul Ryan. He and Pence served together in the House and remain so close that Pence asked the speaker to introduce him at the Republican convention. When Trump initially declined to endorse Ryan in his August primary, Pence made a rare public break with his running mate, telling Fox News, “I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States.” But the prolonged feud between Trump and Ryan has tested Pence’s loyalties.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.