- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says it would be a mistake to act as if the Republican party is unified in the wake of a tough presidential primary contest and that the GOP risks heading into the fall election at “half strength” if it doesn’t smooth out internal differences.

“I think it would be a mistake to pretend that our party is unified after we just went through a very divisive primary,” Mr. Ryan said on WTMJ radio this week.

“I think it’s going to take some work to unify our party, because if we pretend we’re unified without actually unifying, then we will go into this fall election at half strength,” he said.

“And that means we’ll be less likely to win,” said Mr. Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee. “And what matters the most to me is that we actually win and not get ourselves a third Obama term, which is what a Clinton presidency presents.”

Mr. Ryan said he was a little surprised the GOP race wrapped up so quickly and that he was bracing for the contest to potentially stretch to the GOP convention in July.

“My biggest fear is that we lose the White House again, and I just believe it would be wrong to assume and just pretend we’re unified when I know we’re not from just watching this primary,” he said. “And I think that’s going to take some work, and we need to get on with that.”

Mr. Ryan said last week on CNN that he wasn’t ready to support presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy yet, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement last Wednesday saying he will support the party’s nominee.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with Mr. Ryan and other congressional leaders this week in Washington, D.C.

“I want to get to know him and understand him better … I really don’t know him,” Mr. Ryan said.

“Basically the kind of conversation I’m hoping we all can have together — not just the two of us, but all of us — is how we can actually unify our party,” Mr. Ryan said.

“He deserves every bit of credit for what he’s accomplished, but I think at the same time, it’s important to understand that there are a lot of conservatives who felt alienated in the process or who are not there right now,” he said.

“And if we’re going to win [this] fall, we’ve got to unify all wings [of] the party, and the way, in my opinion, we unify is making sure that we are all working off of the same core principles that make us conservatives in the first place,” Mr. Ryan said.

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