Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, waded into the thick of the race on Super Tuesday by forcefully denouncing front-runner Donald Trump’s recent interview in which he did not disavow the Ku Klux Klan former grand wizard David Duke.
While not referring to Trump by name, the usually reserved Ryan took an impassioned stance.
“Today I want to be very clear about something, 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. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln,” Ryan said.
In the past, Ryan has tried to distance himself from his party’s divisive presidential primary.
However, how to best deal with the prospects of Donald Trump becoming the GOP nominee has been an ongoing struggle for Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that McConnell said vulnerable Republican senators would drop Trump “like a hot rock.” Last year, after Trump announced a plan that would ban all Muslims from immigrating to the United States, Ryan went out of his way to say the proposal was, “not conservatism.”
Despite speaking out against Trump, Ryan reiterated his past position that he would eventually support whoever becomes the GOP nominee for president.
Regarding the increasing divisions in the party, Ryan told NBC News, “I never believe our party is beyond the point of repair, of course we don’t want to see divisions in our party, we are conservatives, we believe in the American idea.”
This article first appeared on NBCNews.com.