Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) expressed sympathy Tuesday for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s statement that he would not campaign for Donald Trump or defend him, but said some Republicans panicked by backing away from the Republican presidential nominee so quickly.
Ryan’s remarks came Monday as party leaders struggled to respond to Trump’s lewd sexual remarks captured in a 2005 video made public on Friday. Trump was heard on the video talking about kissing and groping women without their consent.
“I’m sure . . . (Ryan) was getting pressure from Republicans who thought it was too dangerous to stay with Trump,” King said in a phone interview Tuesday. “He wanted to give his official approval for walking away from Trump.”
“I don’t agree with it,” King said. “But I don’t have any hostility to Paul on this.”
Still, he said, the split between Ryan and Trump “makes the situation tougher for Republicans.”
“I’m not saying Paul, but there were people who did panic,” he said. “If a person legitimately felt that this morally disqualified Donald Trump for president and are going to call for him to withdraw, I understand that,” he said. “If they’re panicking and pulling support because of poll numbers, people will see through it.”
Whether Trump wins or loses, King predicted Republicans will have a hard time mending fences. A President Trump “would have hard feelings,” he said, and if Trump loses, “There will be an element within the party that feels that they weren’t treated fairly.”