On Tuesday, in an interview with The Washington Post, Donald Trump said when it comes to Paul Ryan, he is unsure if he'll endorse the House speaker, and he is also not planning to endorse Sen. John McCain, in their upcoming primaries. Trump's refusal to back two of the party's most prominent members is perhaps no surprise, given their combative histories. But it further dispels the myth of a unified Republican Party, which lawmakers on the right have been trying to solidify as they begrudgingly fell in line with their party's unlikely nominee leading into the general election.
Trump told the Post that, concerning a Ryan endorsement, he is "not quite there yet." This is an overt reference to what Ryan himself said when asked if he would endorse Trump after the latter was announced the presumptive nominee in May. Ryan was likely the most prominent Republican to hold out on his endorsement until June. Trump hasn't ruled out endorsing Ryan in the Wisconsin primary on Aug. 9, but he's hesitant. "I like Paul," he said of Ryan, "but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I'm just not quite there yet. I'm not quite there yet."
Ryan has been, and remains, a vocal critic of Trump's comments concerning Muslims. Ryan decried Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and most recently spoke out against Trump's exchanges with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of a serviceman who died in Iraq, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Ryan's primary opponent, businessman Paul Nehlen, has been a vocal Trump supporter.
Trump was more definitive in his refusal to endorse John McCain in the Arizona primary. McCain has endorsed Trump, but he's also issued several strong statements against his rhetoric. After the Trump-Khan debacle, McCain wrote a very lengthy and impassioned statement condemning Trump for his treatment of the family. McCain also skipped the Republican National Convention for the first time in three decades, presumably in an effort to distance himself from his party's nominee and better his odds of winning what is shaping up to be a tough election for him in November.
Trump's withholding of endorsements attests to the lasting fractures within the Republican Party, the biggest one being between Trump and the rest of the party. Though most GOP lawmakers got behind Trump, at least in word, as his nomination became inevitable, the nominee is showing that he can't be expected to do the same for them. So much for "party unity."