Paul Ryan has not endorsed Donald Trump, but he has done everything short of it.
After meeting with the presumptive Republican nominee in Washington Thursday morning, the Speaker of the House talked to the press and, while he didn’t go into details about what was discussed, he did plainly say what he wants to do this fall.
“We do want to beat Hillary Clinton,” he said, referring to the presumptive Democratic nominee.
But when pressed to clarify if he is endorsing Trump’s candidacy or if he planned to, Ryan was coy.
“The process of unifying the Republican Party takes some time,” he said. Ryan added that he doesn’t want to resort to a “fake unifying” of the party.
Speaking to CNN, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus called the meeting “a positive first step to unify our party” though he also declined to discuss details.
In his press conference and in a joint statement released by Trump and Ryan, the Speaker acknowledged that he and Trump still have policy differences. Trump’s plan to ban the entry of Muslims to the United States and his resistance to entitlement reform, for instance, have both been seen as potential hurdles to a Ryan-Trump alliance. Ryan maintained that he and Trump share “core principles.” He cited their respective positions on abortion as one example, though some conservatives have pointed out that Trump once identified as a supporter of abortion rights.
An actual, full-throated endorsement from Ryan may not actually be necessary for Trump to compete this fall. After all, part of Trump’s appeal is that he is disliked by the GOP establishment. And Paul Ryan is the symbol of the GOP establishment.
At the same time, Ryan’s support would help make sure the Republican National Convention in July goes smoothly.
Trump has not yet commented on his meeting with the House Speaker. The candidate held a similar meeting with Senate leaders directly after his meeting with Ryan.