- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2017

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Monday that President Trump “messed up” in his response to the racial demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, but warned against trying to politicize the response, saying that would “descend this issue into some partisan hack-fest.”

At a town-hall meeting in his home district in Wisconsin, aired live on CNN, Mr. Ryan said he won’t support a Congressional move to censure Mr. Trump.

“To make this us against them, Republicans against Democrats, pro-Trump, anti-Trump, that is a big mistake for our country,” Mr. Ryan said.

The Republican leader repeatedly called white supremacists “fringe,” and said they need to be kept there. He said Mr. Trump got the response correct last Monday, got it wrong on Tuesday, then got it right again this week in the beginning of his speech on Afghanistan on Monday night.

CNN host Jake Tapper, though, repeatedly demanded Mr. Ryan do more to chastise Mr. Trump personally for his handling, pointing out that the two times Mr. Trump did better he was speaking from prepared remarks, while his worse response came off-the-cuff while answering questions at an impromptu press conference.

The questioners chosen by CNN also prodded Mr. Ryan to bash Mr. Trump. When one man accused the president of “bullying” tweets, and asked him to explain that to his own children, Mr. Ryan gave more practical advice: “I tell my kids to turn off the TV, get off the internet.”

Mr. Tapper, a TV host, joked that he wasn’t sure how to take the advice to turn off the TV.

Democrats have said that when Congress returns from vacation they will attempt to vote to censure Mr. Trump. But so far it remains a Democratic push, and Mr. Ryan’s rejection is likely to keep it that way.

“It should not be about the president. This is not about Republicans or Democrats. This shouldn’t be about some vote in Congress or some partisan issue. This is so much more than that,” he said.

Mr. Ryan defended the House GOP’s agenda so far under Mr. Trump, saying that in addition to passing an Obamacare repeal — which has stalled out in the Senate — the House has approved legislation to overhaul the Wall Street reforms enacted after the 2008 collapse, and to boost job training.

Those and hundreds of other bills are awaiting Senate action, he said.

On health care, he said the House has done its job, and said the Senate must get back to work. But he wouldn’t set deadlines for senators, saying there are other key votes coming up that must be taken care of soon, including raising the government’s borrowing limit.

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