Paul Ryan says Trump ‘messed up' on statements following Charlottesville march

Posted at 9:03 PM, Aug 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 00:03:50-04

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he will not support a resolution to censure President Donald Trump over his comments following the white supremacist march in Virginia.

Ryan was asked at a town hall Monday night in his Wisconsin congressional district whether he would back the resolution. The question came from Rabbi Dena Feingold, the sister of former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who grew up in the same city as Ryan.

Ryan says censuring Trump would be "so counterproductive" and "descend this issue into some partisan hackfest."

Ryan says Trump "messed up" when he said that there were "fine people" on both sides of the Virginia march, but believes Trump has clarified his remarks.

Ryan says, "You're not a good person if you're there, it's so very clear."

He took several questions regarding white supremacy groups, going on to say that Trump has since done better. 

"What I worry about in this situation is that we get numb to this, that we sort of start to lose our sense of outrage against these white supremacists and these neo-nazis, that we see it over and over on TV and think 'oh yeah that again' no," Ryan said. "My point is we've got to keep our moral outrage and we all have to stand up and speak out against this kind of bigotry." 

Demonstrators gathered outside of the town hall before the event began, many saying that they did not feel it was a true town hall due to the pre-screened questions and limited access. 

"I really question how fair and balanced this is when it's treated more like VIP at a club then it is access to your representative," said Jen Adamski-Torres, who received approval to attend the town hall, but questioned CNN's process. 

According to information sent out by Ryan's office last week, CNN was in charge of attendance for the event. It was only open to people who live in the first congressional district and anyone who wanted to attend had to apply for an invitation online. 

Part of the application process included submitting your question ahead of time. 

TODAY's TMJ4 was not allowed inside the event and was restricted from speaking to anyone waiting in line. Our crew did speak to a man outside the event who lives in Racine and came to show his support for Ryan. 

"It looks like everybody in Racine and his district is against him which is far from the truth," said Jeff Frievalt. "Obviously he won the last several elections. People are upset with Ryan because he doesn't do enough for Trump, people are upset with Ryan because he does too much for Trump, so he's in a no-win situation."

Randy Bryce also attended the demonstration beforehand. Bryce could be Paul Ryan's Democratic opponent in the midterm election. 

Bryce said he applied to get into the town hall but was not approved. He has frequently criticized Ryan for not holding public town halls. Instead, Ryan has opted for telephone town halls and events held in private businesses. 

"I think it's good to see that he's hearing me call him out as far as him coming to the district," Bryce said. "A few people are going to see what he has to say but it's going to be a well-scripted event."