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Republican house speaker Paul Ryan endorses Donald Trump

Ryan’s backing of Trump could give cover to more reluctant Republicans to get behind the billionaire businessman

Published: Updated:

Paul Ryan, the top elected Republican, ended a long period of soul-searching and endorsed Donald Trump for president on Thursday, a step toward unifying party loyalists behind the insurgent candidate despite concerns about his candidacy.

Ryan had been a high-profile holdout to supporting Trump for the Nov. 8 presidential election out of concern about the presumptive Republican nominee’s bellicose rhetoric and break with party orthodoxy on issues including trade and immigration.

The House of Representatives speaker announced his support in a column for the Janesville Gazette newspaper in his home state of Wisconsin. It surfaced in the middle of a speech by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in which she launched a far-reaching attack on Trump’s foreign policy credentials.

Ryan did not specifically use the word “endorse” in his column, but his spokesman, Brendan Buck, made clear that Ryan’s move should be seen as an endorsement.

The speaker had criticized the Republican candidate several times, including Trump’s proposal in December to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States because of national security concerns.

The 46-year-old Ryan was the only member of the Republican congressional leadership who had not formally embraced Trump.

In a tweet, Trump responded: “So great to have the endorsement and support of Paul Ryan. We will both be working very hard to Make America Great Again!”

Ryan’s backing of Trump could give cover to more reluctant Republicans to get behind the billionaire businessman as their best chance to win the White House.