For the first time since reality TV host Donald Trump became a viable presidential candidate, House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared genuinely giddy.
"Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government. It feels really good to say that, actually," Speaker Ryan said Tuesday, opening his first press conference since Donald Trump became president-elect last week. "This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump's victory into real progress for the American people."
Asked to comment on his relationship with Steve Bannon, who's rumored to be in the running with Reince Priebus for the chief of staff spot, Ryan gave a politicized answer, calling the former Breitbart CEO "a person who helped [Trump] win an incredible victory on an incredible campaign."
"We’re confident about moving forward," Ryan added. "We’re confident about the transition."
As The New York Daily News noted, Ryan's "relationship with Bannon, who is virulently anti-immigration and is known for his controversial racial views, is ... fraught":
The former head of Breitbart News used his publication to crusade against the speaker and Bannon often referred to him as "the enemy" in private discussions, agitating for him to get pushed out of power and backing a primary challenger to him last summer.
"I’m not looking backward, I’m looking forward," Ryan continued, referring vaguely to Breitbart News' repeated attacks against him after he said in May that he's "just not ready" to endorse Trump, then the party's presumptive nominee. "I’m looking for how we make this work for the American people."
Following his press conference on Tuesday, the first full day of the lame duck session, House Republicans voted unanimously for Ryan to retain speakership.