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Ryan Talks Turkish Coup Attempt on Day 1 of Convention

Speaker also credits Donald Trump for changing the Republican Party

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, center, criticized President Barack Obama on Monday for "horrible foreign policy decisions." Also in the photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, center, criticized President Barack Obama on Monday for "horrible foreign policy decisions." Also in the photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Monday that the attempted coup in Turkey is “just another chapter in the narrative in how destabilized the world is.”  

“The whole place is a tinder box,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “The world is becoming a tinder box.”   

Speaking during an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ryan said that “miserable foreign policy” is to blame for the state of affairs in Turkey and throughout the world. The United States needs a leader who will take a stronger stance, he said.    

“Right now our allies are really wondering about our resolve. And we have shown mixed resolve,” the speaker said. “The president has made horrible foreign policy decisions … not to mention the fact that our military is under duress.”  

Ryan’s foreign policy comments are timely as national security, specifically “Make America Safe Again,” is the theme for the opening day of the Cleveland convention. Monday’s headline speakers, including retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn , Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa , and  Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana  are expected to focus their speeches around that topic.   

Flynn, as well as House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul and Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, both Texas Republicans, have been advising Trump on national security, Ryan said.   

In addition to foreign policy and national security, Ryan also spoke about his relationship with Donald Trump, and how he believes the billionaire businessman is changing the Republican Party.   

“We have frank exchanges, frank discussions,” Ryan said, noting that Trump “does listen.”  

Ryan said he’s had about half a dozen conversations with the presumptive nominee and that his and Trump’s staff talk constantly. Much of their conversations have been about the House GOP’s “Better Way” agenda, but Ryan said he will also tell Trump when he disagrees with him, to explain his viewpoint and to persuade the real estate mogul to see things differently.  

The speaker threw a few jabs at Trump during the event, calling him “not my kind of conservative” and answering a question about Trump’s controversial proposals by noting that the Republican party is a big-tent party — “real big.”  

Asked what Ryan would do when a hypothetical President Trump sends an appropriations request to Congress for his border wall with Mexico, Ryan said, “He’s going to go to Mexico, remember?”  

Still, Ryan gave Trump credit for the support he garnered in the primary, noting that he “vanquished” his opponents and brought along new Republican voters.   

“I think he has changed the party, but I don’t think any one person possesses this party,” Ryan said.   

The question going forward is whether Trump can build on the coalition of supporters he amassed during the primary.   

Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate “helps tremendously,” Ryan said, noting that Pence “helps bridge different parts of the conservative movement.”


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