Paul Ryan phones Trump, Cruz to discuss 'bold conservative' agenda

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Speaker Ryan Takes Aim at Trump: 'This Is the Party of Lincoln'

Less than a week after House Speaker Paul Ryan went after Republican front-runner Donald Trump for failing to disavow David Duke and the KKK, the former vice presidential nominee has spoken over the phone with the controversial candidate about developing a Republican agenda.

And in addition to Trump, Ryan, R-Wis., has also spoken to Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, "to explain House Republicans' plan to present a bold conservative policy agenda this year," the speaker's press secretary, AshLee Strong, told NBC News Monday.

Speaker Ryan also plans to have similar calls with Republican presidential candidates Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich, she said.

The push to develop an agenda that the eventual Republican nominee can embrace has been a focus of Ryan's short tenure as speaker.

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Paul Ryan phones Trump, Cruz to discuss 'bold conservative' agenda
Speaker of the House Denis Hastert (L) administers the oath of office to Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin as his family looks on January 6, 1999 at the start of the 106th Congress. The oath is a recreation as the formal oath is administered to the entire congress as a body on the floor of the House. (photo by Rex Banner)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 12: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at a news conference in which House Republican leaders called for Permanent Tax Relief. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
KRT US NEWS STORY SLUGGED: SOCIALSECURITY-DISCUSSION KRT PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE BRIDGES/KRT (April 14) Conversation on Social Security between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), shown, and William Novelli, head of AARP, April 5, 2005 (lde) 2005 (Photo by George Bridges/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
In this photo taken Dec. 1, 2015, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.Talks on a massive, government-wide spending bill hit a snag Wednesday as Republicans pressed demands to block new power plant rules, weaken financial services regulations and make it more difficult for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the U.S. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - JULY 22: MEDICARE BRIEFING--Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., speaks at a Cato Institute briefing on Medicare reform in the Rayburn House Office Building. Tom Miller, director of Health Policy Studies at Cato, looks on. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 24: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) questions Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, during a hearing on Capitol Hill about the impact of recent market turmoil on the federal budget on September 24, 2008 in Washington, DC. Orszag reported that while the impact is currently unknown, it is likely to be substantially less than $700 billion. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - APRIL 27: House Budget Committee ranking member Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) delivers an opening statement during a conference committee meeting with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) (L) and House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-SC) in the U.S. Capitol April 27, 2009 in Washington, DC. House and Senate lawmakers have already struck a tentative deal on the FY2010 budget resolution and they hope to file a conference report after today's meeting. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MARCH 19: (L-R) U.S. House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) listen during a news conference on the health care legislation March 19, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The House will vote on the Health Care Reform Legislation on Sunday, March 21. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 5, 2011. U.S. House Republicans today unveiled a plan to overhaul the federal budget and slash the deficit in coming years by about three-quarters, with a $6-trillion cut in spending and 25 percent cap on tax rates. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) left, and moderator David Gregory, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 10, 2011. (Photo by William B. Plowman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 01: Republican Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) jokes with U.S. Rep Paul Ryan (C) (R-WI) during a pancake brunch at Bluemound Gardens on April 1, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With less than a week before the Wisconsin primary, Mitt Romney continues to campaign through the state. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is introduced before speaking about 'America's Enduring Promise,' and the federal budget, in a speech at Georgetown University April 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. During his speech, Ryan said that his proposed budget confronts the nation's growing $15 trillion debt before it impacts future generations of Americans. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
NORFOLK, VA - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) jokes with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) after announcing him as the 'next PRESIDENT of the United States' during an event announcing him as his running mate in front of the USS Wisconsin August 11, 2012 in Norfolk, Virginia. Ryan, a seven term congressman, is Chairman of the House Budget Committee and provides a strong contrast to the Obama administration on fiscal policy. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 14: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Vice Presidential candidate, waves to the crowd after addressing the Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
NEWPORT NEWS, VA - SEPTEMBER 18: Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), pauses as he speaks during a campaign rally at Christopher Newport University September 18, 2012 in Newport News, Virginia. Ryan continued to campaign for the upcoming presidential election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) hugs waitress, Lourdes Alcerro, during a campaign stop at Versailles restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood on September 22, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Ryan continues to campaign for votes across the country. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R) and running-mate Paul Ryan share a laugh as they are introduced at a campaign rally September 25, 2012 at Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)
Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, arrives at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. Ryan said he'd be willing to run for speaker of the U.S. House if Republicans unify behind him now, end leadership crises and let him continue spending time with his family. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, center right, walks down the steps of the U.S. Capitol building following a vote in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Ryan is under heavy pressure from fellow Republicans to run for U.S. House speaker after a hard-line faction forced Speaker John Boehner to resign and his top lieutenant to drop out of the race. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., leaves his office before a House GOP meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, walks to a meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. Ryan is set to meet with a group of House conservatives Tuesday as he weighs a potential run to replace Speaker John Boehner under pressure from fellow Republicans. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis. leaves his office before a House GOP meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Representative Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, center, talks to the media after walking out of the U.S. Capitol building following a vote in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Ryan is under heavy pressure from fellow Republicans to run for U.S. House speaker after a hard-line faction forced Speaker John Boehner to resign and his top lieutenant to drop out of the race. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis. leaves his office before a House Republican meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 20 - Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at a news conference following a House Republican meeting, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. Ryan is stating that he will run for speaker only if he receives enough GOP support by the end of the week. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., center, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, following meetings with House Republican leaders and the Freedom Caucus members. Ryan seeking unity in a place it's rarely found, is telling House Republicans he will serve as their speaker only if they embrace him by week's end as their consensus candidate. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, awaits the arrival of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for a meeting at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, December 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds his weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill on December 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Paul Ryan spoke on topics including Donald Trump and the spending bill. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-WI) speaks during a Politico interview at the Grand Hyatt on December 15, 2015 in Washington DC. Ryan was interviewed by Politico's Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen during a Politico Playbook Breakfast. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. welcomes Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Ryan, who ran as Mitt Romney's running-mate in 2012, was elected to the Speakership after conservative House Republicans ousted House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, from the job in September of 2015.

"I am going to brief all of our presidential candidates on our agenda project," Ryan told reporters last week, "The goal here is to have an election like we had in 1980, where we unite around bold ideas and we earn a mandate from the country so that we can get the country back on track. With that, I'd be happy to answer your questions."

But Ryan has at-times been publicly critical of Donald Trump's policies and rhetoric, going after Trump for his proposal to ban Muslim immigrants, and more recently speaking out against Trump's failure to immediately disavow David Duke and the KKK.

"If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games: They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry," Ryan told reporters last week, "This party does not prey on people's prejudices — we appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln."

Related: House Speaker Paul Ryan: No Room for 'Bigotry' in GOP

Asked about the criticism the next day, Trump responded, saying, "I don't know him well, but I'm sure I'm going to get along great with him and if I don't, he's going to have to pay a big price, OK?"

Ryan said he watched Trump's comments live, admitting that he had "laughed out loud" at the response.

"You know, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction around here these days. I don't really think anything of it," Ryan said.

Trump Shares His Greatest Fault

Ryan himself has garnered attention as the person who could possibly unite the party if the Republican nomination fight ends with a contested convention in July — with a Super PAC named "Committee To Draft Speaker Ryan" attempting to gather one million signatures to "demonstrate to him that he would have the strong backing of the American people."

Ryan quickly disavowed the effort in a formal letter from his attorney to the Federal Election Commission, saying, "The speaker has not, and does not, explicitly or implicitly, authorize, endorse, or otherwise approve of the organization's formation or activities."

"It is the speaker's sincere hope that donors and supporters are not confused by, or misled into supporting, this organization," the letter to the FEC read.

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