Aug. 22 (UPI) — House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized President Donald Trump‘s remarks regarding the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., this month during a CNN town hall in Racine, Wis., on Monday.
In response to a questioner who asked if Ryan would “forcefully condemn” Trump’s statements after Charlottesville, in which the president was widely criticized for saying “many sides” were to blame for the violence, the House Speaker said he spoke to the president about “the need for moral clarity” and the need to “singularly condemn this repulsive bigotry.”
Ryan said he believed Trump did just that in his first remarks about the protests.
But when Trump held a press conference in New York City on infrastructure, Ryan said, those remarks were “morally ambiguous” and didn’t do enough to condemn racism and bigotry.
“I do think he could have done better. He needed to do better. I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation, or at the very least, moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity,” Ryan said.
“It was not only morally ambiguous; it was equivocating,” he added.
During that press conference on Aug. 15, Trump appeared to double down on counter-protesters, despite one of them being allegedly murdered by a white supremacist.
“You had a group on one side that was mad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump told reporters. “Nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say that. … You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.”
During the town hall, Ryan said more needs to be done to address racism in the United States.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat … Every single one of us needs to unify against this repugnant, vile bigotry,” Ryan said. “We all have to stand up and speak out against this kind of bigotry.”