Ryan on Trump's threat: 'I just laughed out loud'

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Atheist group argues in court for prayer rights on House floor Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era MORE (R-Wis.) on Thursday said he "laughed out loud" when Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE warned on Tuesday that Ryan will get along with him or "pay a big price."


The new Speaker, just four months on the job, told reporters at the Capitol that he was watching Trump’s Super Tuesday victory speech live on TV in his office when he heard the real estate mogul and reality TV star issue a vague threat.

“I just laughed out loud, I think,” Ryan said. “Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction these days.”

Still, Ryan predicted he could get along with Trump, whom he’s met only once before.

“I’m a good-natured guy,” Ryan said.

Ryan repeatedly refused to criticize Trump on Thursday, even as Ryan's former 2012 running mate, Mitt Romney, held a simultaneous news conference ripping Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud.”

But Ryan made clear he’d speak out against Trump or his GOP rivals if he feels they’re stepping over the line. On Tuesday, Ryan took Trump to task for not forcefully rejecting an endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. In December, Ryan blasted Trump for proposing to ban Muslims from the United States.

“If I see episodes where conservatism is being disfigured, ideas and comments that mislead the people as to who we are as Republicans, I’m going to speak out on those. I’ve done it twice already,” Ryan said. “I’m going to speak out for who I am and what I believe and what we as House Republicans believe and what conservatism is as we understand it.”

Instead of attacking the New York businessman, Ryan said House Republicans can offer a bold, conservative legislative agenda that could help steer the GOP through a messy, competitive primary and paint a contrast with Democrats.

“I can help lead House Republicans to offer an agenda. I can help put substance in this campaign,” Ryan said.  

The House agenda, Ryan said, can “add a keel and a rudder to this ship of the Republican Party and give it direction so we can take the American people a real choice."

Ryan, who as Speaker will serve as the ceremonial chairman of the GOP nominating convention in Cleveland, said he plans to reach out to each of his party’s remaining presidential hopefuls to brief them on the House agenda.