Ryan: Trump's comments about judge are 'textbook' racism

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy MORE's criticism of a judge because of his ethnicity are "the textbook definition of racist comments," Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me Two months later: Puerto Rico doesn’t have power, education or economy running again On Capitol Hill, few name names on sexual harassment MORE (R-Wis.) said Tuesday during an event on poverty in Washington D.C.

"I regret these comments that he made," Ryan said. "I think that should be absolutely disavowed."

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Reporters bombarded Ryan, who also criticized the remarks last week, with questions about Trump at an event intended to discuss solutions for poverty as part of the House GOP policy agenda.

"I think they're wrong. I don't think they're right-headed," the Speaker, who endorsed Trump for president last week, said of the remarks.

The presumptive GOP nominee has repeatedly accused Judge Gonzalo Curiel of bias in a case against Trump University because he is of Mexican descent. Ryan later called the comments "indefensible" but did not rescind his endorsement.

The flurry of questions about Trump highlights the challenge faced by Ryan and other GOP leaders, who are backing Trump as their nominee but seeing his controversies crowd out their efforts to talk policy.

Ryan conceded that Trump's comments do "undercut" the House GOP's efforts to put forth a policy agenda this election year.
 
"I'm not going to even pretend to defend them," Ryan said. " I'm going to defend our ideas. I'm going to defend our agenda. What matters to us most is our principles and the policies that come from those principles and our ability to give the people of this country a better way forward."

Ryan repeatedly said Tuesday that he was backing Trump because he believes the nation is far better off with the Republican nominee than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE as president.

He said the poverty reform proposals discussed on Tuesday would be more likely to become law in a Trump administration.

Ryan also made a plea for unity, saying the party would be “doomed to fail” if it is divided in November. He said it is more likely that GOP ideas will become law if Republicans are unified.