WASHINGTON -- When Donald Trump issued a threat to Speaker Paul Ryan Tuesday night, saying Ryan would pay a “big price” if he didn’t get along with Trump, the speaker was watching -- and he wasn’t very scared.
“I just laughed out loud,” Ryan told reporters Thursday, noting that he saw the Trump press conference live. “Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction around here these days.”
The real estate mogul issued his threat after winning big on Super Tuesday, and after Ryan condemned the idea that Republicans might be OK with the Ku Klux Klan.
"Paul Ryan, I do not know him well, but I'm sure we will get along," Trump said. "And if we don't, he will have to pay a big price, OK?"
Ryan said he didn’t really think anything of Trump’s remarks, but the Wisconsin Republican made it clear several times Thursday that he has disagreements with Trump, even if he won’t say the GOP presidential frontrunner’s name.
“If I see episodes where conservatism is being disfigured,” Ryan said, “if I see ideas and comments that mislead the people as to who we are as Republicans, I’m going to speak out on those.”
Ryan noted that he’s twice broken his silence on 2016 -- both times to address comments from Trump -- and he said he would continue to speak out when conservatism is being misconstrued. But he also said he’s not worried about not condemning every controversial statement the orange-tinted real estate tycoon makes.
“I see my role as speaker of the House as a unique role, and as chairman of the [GOP Presidential] Convention as a unique role,” Ryan said.
His mention of his role running the convention in Cleveland this summer also carries significance. Ryan will be in a strong position to sway Republican delegates if Trump arrives there without the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination outright.
Ryan said that rather than addressing every specific issue in the ongoing primary, he would instead offer all GOP candidates a "bold" vision and ideas on which to base their messages in the fall.
When he was asked how he could reasonably work with Trump considering they are on the opposite sides of most policies -- Trump wants to raise taxes on the rich, leave entitlements alone and is opposed to free trade -- Ryan ducked acknowledging their policy disagreements.
“We’re going to speak out for who we are and what we believe. We’re going to run on our beliefs, we’re going to run on our ideas,” he said. “I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Ryan made his comments while Mitt Romney -- who chose Ryan for his vice presidential running mate in 2012 -- was hammering Trump at a speech in Utah, calling the mogul a phony and a fraud.
Ryan wasn't able to comment on Romney's remarks, but he made clear that the last GOP standard-bearer was "a good friend."
Of Trump he said: "I don't really know him. We're going to obviously get know each other if he gets the nomination, and we'll cross those bridges when we get to it."