On Wednesday, amid reports of a violent incident that took place near the British parliament in London, many people immediately assumed the worst ― namely, that the combined reports of the stabbing of a police officer, the shooting of an assailant, and pedestrians being struck by a car near Westminster Bridge amounted to a terrorist attack. And after the Metropolitan Police made it clear they were viewing it as such, the U.S. Speaker of the House followed suit: Paul Ryan responded to the London attack, and he did so well prior to President Trump making any similar public comment.
Trump did passingly reference "some big news" relating to London in front of reporters this morning, but his Twitter account has been silent on the matter, and he has yet to make a public appearance or deliver a full-fledged statement on what happened. Given his propensity for hyping threats of terrorist violence, however, it seems obvious that he eventually will.
But not before Ryan weighed in. He tweeted his condolences and prayers for the victims of the purported terrorist attack shortly after British law enforcement confirmed the incident was being treated as terrorism. Describing the bloodshed as a "terrible scene in London," Ryan concluded "we stand with our friends in Parliament and Great Britain."
Terrible scene in London. Praying for the victims of this apparent act of terror. We stand with our friends in Parliament and Great Britain.— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 22, 2017
The news of the attack in London came amid what was already a busy and stressful morning for Ryan, Trump, and really the entire Republican House membership ― they've got a massive vote looming on Thursday (as long as it isn't delayed) on the Obamacare replacement bill, already being dubbed "Trumpcare" by many. Indeed, Ryan's other tweets on Wednesday have been focused on his battle to get the 218 necessary votes in the House to move the controversial bill along to the Senate.
According to the president's Twitter account, that's also what he was focused on Wednesday morning, when news of the attack broke ― he last tweeted "Big day for healthcare. Working hard!" So, it's perhaps not surprising that he hasn't responded to London yet, and that Ryan got there first, although under normal circumstances, with a more customary president, such a delay might stir up some criticism. The U.S. State Department has also issued a statement about the London attack, saying its "closely following the concerning situation outside the UK parliament," and urging "U.S. citizens in London to contact family members and loved ones to notify them that you are safe."