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Paul Ryan Rebukes Donald Trump Over David Duke Endorsement

J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called out GOP candidate Donald Trump for insufficiently rebuking David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and his white supremacist politics.

"This is the kind of moment where we should be having a serious debate about the policies to restore the American idea. Instead the conversation over the last few days has been about white supremacists groups," he told reporters Tuesday after the weekly House GOP meeting.

Ryan has, for the most part, stayed out of presidential politics.

"If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or any cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people's prejudices."

This is the second time Ryan has called out Trump. He did so in response to Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., which Ryan publicly rejected as antithetical to conservatism and the Republican Party. Ryan reiterated his past stated commitment to support the nominee.

On CNN's State of the Union Sunday, Trump was asked repeatedly about Duke's endorsement and Duke's connection to the KKK. Trump wouldn't disavow the endorsement, saying: "I just don't know anything about him." He later blamed a "very bad earpiece" during the interview. Trump had, however, disavowed Duke's endorsement during a news conference Friday and he later tweeted a clip from that along with "I disavow."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.
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