Trump declines to endorse Ryan, McCain
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE on Tuesday declined to key Republicans facing primary challenges.

Trump said he is "not quite there yet" on backing House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE (R-Wis.) and sharply criticized Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (R-Ariz.).

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“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” he told The Washington Post. “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.”

Trump seemed to be alluding to a may interview with CNN where Ryan similarly said he was not "ready" to back Trump for president, after the businessman became the GOP's presumptive nominee.

“To be perfectly candid with you ... I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now,” Ryan said at the time.

Trump, who said Ryan has asked for his endorsement, on Monday praised the Speaker's primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, on Twitter:

“[Ryan’s] opponent is a big fan of what I’m saying — big fan,” Trump said on Tuesday. “His opponent, who’s running a very good campaign, obviously, I’ve heard — his opponent sent me a very scholarly and well thought out letter yesterday and all I did was say thank you very much for your very nice letter. You saw my statement.”

A spokesman for Ryan's campaign denied soliciting Trump's support.

"Neither Speaker Ryan nor anyone on his team has ever asked for Donald Trump's endorsement. And we are confident in a victory next week regardless,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The real estate mogul also blasted McCain, saying the Arizona Republican who has pushed back against some of Trump's comments in the past has not “done a good job for the vets.”

“I haven’t endorsed John McCain,” Trump said. “I’ve never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets.

“He has not done a good job for the vets and I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. So I’ve always had a difficult time with John for that reason, because our vets are not being treated properly. They’re not being treated fairly.”

Trump also set his sights on Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteLessons from Alabama: GOP, throw out the old playbook The Hill's 12:30 Report Explaining Democratic victories: It’s gun violence, stupid MORE (R-N.H.), calling her out for trying to distance herself from the businessman.

“You have a Kelly Ayotte who doesn’t want to talk about Trump, but I’m beating her in the polls by a lot,” he said. “You tell me. Are these people that should be representing us, OK? You tell me.

“I don’t know Kelly Ayotte,” Trump continued. “I know she’s given me no support — zero support — and yet I’m leading her in the polls. I’m doing very well in New Hampshire. We need loyal people in this country. We need fighters in this country. We don’t need weak people. We have enough of them. We need fighters in this country. But Kelly Ayotte has given me zero support, and I’m doing great in New Hampshire.”

Ayotte, who is in a tough reelection race against Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) issued a statement on Tuesday in response to Trump's remarks, though she did not mention him by name.

"I call it like I see it, and I'm always going to stand up for our military families and what's best for the people of New Hampshire," she said.

Ayotte's campaign confirmed to The Hill that the GOP senator is not withdrawing her support for Trump.

—Lisa Hagen contributed. Last updated at 6:10 p.m.