Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson says Paul Ryan unqualified as Speaker of the House if he does not back Trump

“It’s incumbent on Paul Ryan to help bring unity,” the top Trump aide told CNN after Ryan said he isn't ready

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published May 6, 2016 1:34PM (EDT)


Donald Trump plans to bully his way to party unity now that he has all but clinched the Republican Party presidential nomination.

His short-lived promises to pivot to a more presidential candidate in recent weeks have only been outpaced by the whiplashing speed by which his campaign has already abandon plans to the unite the Republican party after vanquishing his final competitors in Indiana on Tuesday. The "presumptive" nominee, as RNC chairman Reince Priebus referred to him Tuesday, was quick to announce the formation of a vice presidential advisory committee lead by former rival Ben Carson, vowing to reach out to once bitter rivals in an effort to heal primary wounds.

But Trump's effort to squash the #NeverTrump effort before it metastasized into a Republican 2016 version of PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass) faced a major, even if superficial, roadblock from the top Republican left standing not named Donald Trump.

"I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now," Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper when asked if would endorse Trump on Thursday.

"I was really surprised by it," Trump told his friends at Fox News' "Fox & Friends" Friday morning. "It's fine," the thin-skinned "presumptive" nominee insisted, adding that Ryan can "do whatever he wants."

"He talks about unity, but what is this about unity?" Trump asked. "With millions of people coming into the party, obviously I'm saying the right thing," he argued.

His newly named top advisor Ben Carson said he was "personally very disappointed" that Ryan said he wasn't prepared to back Trump.

"If we divide the party, we ensure the victory of the opposite party. And we've got to be more mature than that," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Friday.

On CNN Friday morning, Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson took a more controversial stance on Ryan's resistance to her boss. “If the Speaker of the House doesn’t come around to supporting the Republican nominee, do you think Paul Ryan is still fit to be Speaker?” she was asked by "New Day" host John Berman on Friday.

“No, because this is about the party,” Pierson bluntly responded. “We were told to hold our noses and vote for the sake of the party,” she complained of Republican leadership in the past that promoted failed presidential tickets, including Ryan's run with Mitt Romney in 2012.

“These same people are now telling us that because their guy didn’t win, they want to hurt the party,” Pierson said incredulously. "The issue here isn't about Donald Trump," Pierson asserted. “If you can’t hold yourself to the standard that you’re holding everyone else, the problem is with you.”



By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Republican Primary Donald Trump Elections 2016 Gop Civil War Katrina Pierson Paul Ryan Video