Paul Ryan, second in line to the US presidency, has said he's not ready to back presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. The Republican front-runner has fired back with some stern words for Ryan.
In a bombshell announcement during an interview with broadcaster CNN on Thursday, Paul Ryan - the highest-ranking office-holder in the Republican Party - said he wasn't prepared to throw his weight behind Donald Trump, his party's likely presidential nominee.
"To be perfectly candid with you, I'm not ready to do that yet," Ryan said of a possible endorsement. "He's got some work to do," he added.
As speaker of the US House of Representatives, Ryan is the second in line to the presidency after the vice president and wields enormous influence in Washington. His predecessor, Republican John Boehner, made headlines last week after he called Trump's former rival Ted Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh."
Cruz announced the end of his presidential campaign on Tuesday after losing to Trump in the Indiana primary.
Clarifying on why he wasn't ready to support Trump, Ryan said he felt the New York billionaire hasn't shown he has the qualities necessary to serve as the nation's commander in chief.
"To be the party and climb the final hill and win, we need a standard-bearer that can unify all - all conservatives and the wings of the party - and then go to the country with an appealing agenda," Ryan said.
"The nominee has to lead in that effort," he added.
Trump fires back
Shortly after the interview, Trump shot back with a statement essentially saying the same thing about Ryan.
"I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda," Trump's statement read. "Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people. They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!"
Even before his exchange of words with Ryan, Trump had already made headlines on Thursday when he tweeted a photo of himself in honor of Cinco de Mayo, the day Mexico honors its army's victory over France during the Battle of Puebla.
The tweet sparked equal amounts of ridicule and outrage from the public. Trump has courted controversy with the sizeable Hispanic population in the United States, having referred to immigrants from Mexico, for instance, as "rapists" and suggesting most of them are drug dealers and criminals.
Ryan is not the only high-ranking Republican to waffle when it comes to Trump. Following his landslide victory against Cruz on Tuesday, several other well-respected conservatives either hinted or said explicitly they wouldn't support the New Yorker.
Mark Salter, for instance, a former adviser to John McCain and Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential race, tweeted that he was supporting Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, in an obvious slight, George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush, both former presidents, said they wouldn't attend the Republican National Convention in July.
blc/cmk (AP, AFP)