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Trump reconsiders, backs Ryan, McCain

August 6, 2016

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the US presidential election, has finally endorsed leading party colleagues. The move ends a four-day standoff and may signal a change in campaign strategy.

Donald Trump with Paul Ryan
Image: Getty Images/AFP/B. Smialowski

In a rare moment of party unity, Donald Trump endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan and other top Republicans late Friday.

"We have to unite," Trump said, speaking at a campaign rally in the US state of Wisconsin. "As president I will need a Republican Senate and House to accomplish all of the changes I want to make."

He added that the campaign "is not about me or any one candidate."

"We will have disagreements. But we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory," Trump said.

The reversal came after Ryan strongly attacked Trump's performance on Thursday, three months before Americans choose between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Ryan had reiterated that his support for the presidential nominee was not guaranteed.

Trump also decided to endorse Arizona Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 nominee, in his congressional re-election campaign, after refusing to do so earlier.

The billionaire has come under heavy fire from his own side and Democrats in the last week over a series of gaffes, which have driven his poll ratings down to 38 percent against Clinton's 47 percent.

In perhaps the most egregious example, Trump criticized the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq in 2004.

Paul Ryan Copyright: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Owen
Ryan said Thursday that his support for Trump was not guaranteedImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Owen

In for a Pence, in for a pound

Meanwhile, Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, has been attempting to make light of the Republican turmoil.

Pence told NBC's "Today Show" that he is seeing "tremendous enthusiasm" for the Republican ticket. He said "Donald Trump and I are standing shoulder to shoulder to say to the American people, 'We can be strong again.'"

Pence also said Trump values the sacrifices made by military families: "This man has a heart for our soldiers."

On Friday, Trump also made a rare admission he was wrong in claiming he saw a video of a US cash payment going to Iran.

Trump has been expressing his outrage about a $400-million (360-million-euro) payment the US made to Iran earlier this year, which was delivered on the same day Iran released four Americans they had detained. Trump has called the payment a ransom, charges dismissed by President Barack Obama and other Democrats.

Economic policy in the making

After months of ambiguity over his economic policies, Trump on Friday announced his team of economic advisers, a first indication of what course the often contradictory candidate would take if elected.

The team includes a hedge fund manager, a former top steel executive and a former high-ranking US government official. Trump will deliver a speech on his economic policy plan on Monday, he said.

Hedge fund manager John Paulson is best known on Wall Street for his bet against the overheated housing market in 2007 that netted him and his investors billions of dollars in profits. He is one of only a handful of hedge fund managers to have publicly endorsed Trump.

David Malpass has served under two previous Republican administrations, first as a deputy assistant Treasury secretary for President Ronald Reagan and later as a deputy assistant secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush.

Malpass, in a CNBC interview on Friday, called for greater infrastructure spending as well as tax cuts, trade reform, regulatory reform and energy reform, although he gave few specifics.

"We need more effective spending and Trump wants to do that - to have stronger finances for the country," he said.

jbh/cmk (AP, AFP)