US House Speaker Ryan: Republican nominee must reject bigotry

Ryan: Republican Nominee Must Reject Bigotry

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday that the Republican presidential nominee must reject any group "built on bigotry," an admonishment aimed at Donald Trump after the front-runner failed to disavow a white supremacist group in an interview.

"If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there must be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry," Ryan told reporters after a Republican Party meeting.

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"This party does not prey on peoples' prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals," Ryan said.

Until now Ryan, a former vice presidential candidate, has tried to stay out of the 2016 presidential race by sidestepping questions. He reiterated on Tuesday he would support whoever becomes the Republican nominee.

But the Republican speaker was clearly unhappy with an interview that Trump gave to CNN on Sunday in which the candidate did not clearly condemn white supremacist support.

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US House Speaker Ryan: Republican nominee must reject bigotry
Voters gather for the Democratic presidential caucus at North High School in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Colorado voters are caucusing to decide between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Colorado is one of a dozen states holding 'Super Tuesday' presidential caucuses or primaries. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 01: Poll workers verify voters' photo indentification cards before they are allowed to cast a ballot inside the Arlington County Fire Station 10 during Super Tuesday voting March 1, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Virginia, one of a dozen states holding presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
TAYLORSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: A Georgia voter leaves Taylorsville Town Hall after voting on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Taylorsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
Voters participate in the Democratic presidential caucus at North High School in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Colorado voters are caucusing to decide between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Colorado is one of a dozen states holding 'Super Tuesday' presidential caucuses or primaries. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- MARCH 1: Caucus goers cast their vote at a Democratic party caucus site at Jefferson Community School on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. High turnout has caused long lines and wait times for voters all around Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- MARCH 1: Caucus goers wait in line to cast their vote at a Democratic party caucus site at Jefferson Community School on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. High turnout has caused long lines and wait times for voters all around Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
WHITE, GA - MARCH 01: 81-year-old Helen Free, left, a polling site assistant manager, takes a lunch break while two Georgia voters fill out voting paper work before casting their ballots on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in White, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
ADAIRSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: 'I'm a Georgia Voter' stickers sit in a basket at a fire station on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Adairsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
MIDDLEBURY, VT - MARCH 01: People vote at a polling station on March 1, 2016 in Middlebury, Vermont. Thousands of Americans across the country are participating in Super Tuesday, the biggest day of the 2016 primary season. Thirteen states and one territory are participating in Super Tuesday: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and American Samoa. This years election, with strong candidates on both the left and the right, is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and divisive in recent history. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SHOAL CREEK, AL - MARCH 1: Mike Maroney, of Shoal Creek, wears an 'I Voted' sticker during the Super Tuesday election at the Shoal Creek Community Center March 1, 2016 in Shoal Creek, Alabama. The rural center has about 70 voters and most had voted before lunch time. 13 states and American Samoa are holding presidential primary elections, with over 1400 delegates at stake. (Photo by Hal Yeager/Getty Images)
TAYLORSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: Edna Martinez wears a 'I'm a Georgia Voter' sticker after casting her ballot at Taylorsville Town Hall on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Taylorsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 1: Voters line up to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. 13 states and American Samoa are holding presidential primary elections, with over 1400 delegates at stake. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Signs are seen on a chair to assist voters at Centreville High School in Centreville, Virginia March 1, 2016, during the Super Tuesday primary voting. Voters in a dozen states will take part in 'Super Tuesday' -- a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
John Echeverria uses the new automatic voting machine at a polling station in Strafford, Vermont, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 01: Poll workers verify voters' photo indentification cards before they are allowed to cast a ballot inside the Arlington County Fire Station 10 during Super Tuesday voting March 1, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Virginia, one of a dozen states holding presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
I Voted stickers rest on a voting machine at a polling station in Strafford, Vermont, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MONTAGUE, MA - MARCH 01: Poll workers use a manual, crank operated, ballot box to collect ballots on March 01, 2016 in Montague, MA. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Massachusetts, one of a dozen states holding Super Tuesday presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
Voters stand in line to await voting at the McGee Community Center on March 1, 2016 in Conway, Arkansas. Americans began voting in the crucial Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in what is deemed the most critical day in the presidential nominating process. The first state to open its polling stations was Virginia at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Voter stickers are seen on a desk at the McGee Community Center on March 1, 2016 in Conway, Arkansas. Americans began voting in the crucial Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in what is deemed the most critical day in the presidential nominating process. The first state to open its polling stations was Virginia at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks into the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A voter marks his ballot at the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A 'Polling Place' sign stands outside the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A stack of 'I voted' stickers are seen March 1, 2016, at one of the Virginia primary election polling stations at Colin Powell Elementary School, in Centreville, Virginia. Voters in a dozen states will take part in 'Super Tuesday' -- a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Ryan's comments came as many in the Republican Party struggle to come to terms with the growing possibility that Trump will be their nominee, with some Republicans repudiating him while others offer him their support.

Ryan spoke on Super Tuesday, the biggest voting day in the race to pick the 2016 presidential nominees for the November election. A number of Southern states including Virginia are holding contests, and opinion polls show Trump is likely to consolidate his status as the favorite to win the nomination.

"We should be having a serious debate about the policies needed to restore the American idea. Instead the conversation over the last few days has been about white supremacist groups," Ryan told reporters.

"As you know, I try to stay out of the day-to-day ups and downs of the primaries. But I've also said when I see something that runs counter to who we are as a party and as a country, I will speak up," the speaker said. He added that he hoped it was the last time he would have to speak out on the presidential race.


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