House Speaker Paul Ryan has jumped into the GOP-driven shaming of front-runner Donald Trump, calling out the billionaire for his comments about a temporary ban on allowing Muslims to enter the U.S. and saying, in a closed-door meeting, the remarks don’t reflect favorably on the nation.
“[That’s] not who we are as a party,” Ryan said, according to Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, who attended the closed-door meeting at the Republican National Committee.
Ryan also reportedly said Trump’s call to shut the borders to Muslims – at least for the time being, to allow U.S. intelligence to get a grasp of the situation – is unlawful and violates “at least two amendments” to the Constitution, the Associated Press reported.
Ryan then went on to issue a dramatic and public statement on Tuesday, saying he wouldn’t normally comment on the presidential race among Republicans, but given Trump’s remarks, feels compelled.
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle,” Ryan said, during a reporters’ gathering after the meeting, the Washington Post said. “This is not conservatism. What was proposed [by Trump] is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
Asked if he’d back Trump if he were nominated by the party in 2016, Ryan responded, ”I’m going to support whoever the Republican nominee is, and I’m going to stand up for what I believe in as I do that.”
Not all Republicans leaving that meeting sided with Ryan, however.
Rep. Steve King from Iowa said, the Washington Post reported: “We have to respect the rights of citizenship here in America. That’s a constitutional principle that I wouldn’t compromise on. Other than that, Mr. Trump has given some of us a little more room to operate. We have a constitutional right to determine who comes to America and we can set out any criteria we want from a constitutional perspective, so let’s have a debate on how we protect America.”
The slams from within come as Republican voters are flocking to Trump’s side.
The latest USA Today GOP Power Rankings poll puts Trump well ahead of his competitors, and, in fact, farther ahead than he’s ever been in the months-long history of the survey.
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The poll, since September, has asked “smart political analysts who is the strongest candidate” among Republicans, USA Today reported. And in the wake of the San Bernardino, California, terror attacks, Trump has surged. In the latest, he’s won 20 of 27 possible votes, the most since Week One of the survey.
“Donald Trump’s saber-rattling in the face of terrorism continues to earn him support in the polls,” said Emory University’s Andra Gillespie, in USA Today. “I would be remiss if I didn’t note his widest margins ever this week in the CNN/ORC poll.”
And even Democratic strategists are taking notice.
“[Trump] could very well be the GOP nominee,” said the Democratic Party’s Maria Cardona, in the news outlet. “It is hard to see at this point how that does not happen. He is organizing in the early states, leads in most of them by quite a large margin, except for Iowa where he is tied with [Ted] Cruz, but if he pulls it off, he will gain momentum that will be very tough to stop.”