Speaker Ryan repudiates violence at Trump rallies

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Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanUS secretly agreed to help lift Iran bank sanctions: report 9/11 bill is a global blunder that will weaken US efforts abroad Dear Speaker Ryan: your 'forward-looking agenda' ignores climate change MORE (R-Wis.) on Monday suggested that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPoll: Voters don't trust media fact-checkers San Diego newspaper endorses Clinton Clinton proposes 'reserve' program for volunteers MORE should take responsibility for the recent violence at campaign rallies, which he called "very concerning."

Ryan's remarks, during an interview with WRJN, a Wisconsin radio station, marked the third time during the 2016 presidential campaign that the Speaker has rebuked Trump for his behavior without explicitly mentioning the GOP front-runner by name.

While Ryan criticized the liberal protesters who have been disrupting Trump rallies, the Speaker said candidates are still ultimately responsible for the tenor of their events.

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"I’d make two points about this violence and these rallies: First, there’s obviously an effort by some on the left to shut down these rallies and to stir unrest. We should never condone that. We have a long history of peaceful protest, but creating this kind of drama isn’t good for anybody, and it’s unacceptable," Ryan began.

"At the same time, I think the candidates need to take responsibility for the environment at their events. There is never an excuse for condoning violence, or even a culture that presupposes it," he said.

Trump canceled a rally in Chicago on Friday night as a result of anticipated protests. A Trump supporter was also arrested last week and charged with punching a protester in the face at a rally in North Carolina.

Secret Service agents rushed to surround Trump at a rally in Ohio on Saturday after a man tried to rush the stage.

Trump has repeatedly denied responsibility for the violent incidents and denied the existence of a hostile atmosphere at his events at all.

“There is no violence, you know how many people have been hurt at our rallies? Basically none, other than I guess somebody got hit once. But there’s no violence," Trump said Monday at an event in North Carolina.

Trump has regularly mocked protesters at his rallies, including one instance in which he said he'd "like to punch him in the face."

Ryan, who is staying neutral in the GOP presidential primary and has pledged to support whoever emerges as the nominee, has largely avoided commenting on the campaign. But he has weighed in strategically on two other occasions.

In December, he denounced Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from the U.S. And on the day of the Super Tuesday primaries earlier this month, he condemned Trump for declining to disavow former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. 

"I hope this is the last time I have to speak out on this race," Ryan said two weeks ago.

Yet Ryan found himself again trying to push the campaign toward a discussion of policy.

"Look, people are angry. People have looked at the last seven years, and they are understandably very anxious, very upset, and hurting. But the solution isn’t to call names. It isn’t to stoke anger for political gain. The solution, I think, is to channel that passion into solutions," Ryan said.

Ben Kamisar contributed.