Days after a report of old audio revealing his distrust of Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the president for his rare Reaganesque ability to connect with the American people and his hands-on, crucial role in negotiating sharp differences among Republican lawmakers over the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
At his weekly news conference Thursday, Ryan, noting he speaks with the president nearly every day, said Trump is “deeply involved” in the process of try to pass a health care bill.
“I’ve gotta tell you. I am very pleased and very excited … it’s something I haven’t seen in a long time,” Ryan said.
“This president is getting deeply involved. He is helping bridge gaps in our conference. He is a constructive force to help us get to a resolution so that we get consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Ryan said the main elements of the GOP leadership’s American Health Care Act will remain in place, but “we’re getting feedback and comments from our members, and the president of the United States is the one who has been mediating this.”
“The president of the United States is the one who is bringing people together, sitting around a table, hashing out our differences, so that we can get to a consensus document,” he said.
“The goal here is to get to a bill that can pass … and that actually is great policy. And the president has been playing a very constructive role in this, and literally hand in glove.”
Ryan said his House leadership team and the president’s team are talking daily, “fused and working together, and I’m very excited about that.”
Responding to a reporter’s reference to an earlier comment about Trump being “unorthodox,” Ryan said the fact that the president is unorthodox “is making it easier for us to pass health care.”
“The president, his involvement and his engagement, his listening and his negotiating skills, are bringing people together so that we have a bill that we can pass,” he said.
‘A power not seen since Reagan’
Ryan responded to another question about Trump’s “unorthodox” presidency.
“Sure it’s unorthodox,” he said.
“Did you see the president in Tennessee?” he asked, referring to a rally Wednesday night.
“The president has a connection with individuals in this country,” the House speaker said.
“No offense,” he told reporters, “but he goes around the media and connects with people specifically and individually.
“This is a power that we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan,” said Ryan.
“And so what this president is showing is that he knows how to connect directly with people,” he continued.
“That helps us bridge gaps in Congress and get Republicans unified so we can deliver on our promises,” he said.
Earlier this week, Breitbart reported audio of a private Oct. 10, 2016, conference call with House Republican members immediately after the Access Hollywood tape of Trump was leaked.
“I am not going to defend Donald Trump — not now, not in the future,” Ryan said.
Ryan responded to the release of the audio this week insisting it was old news and that he and the president have been working together since then. At his news conference Thursday he dismissed talk of “palace intrigue” among the “chattering class.”