Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (AFP photo)
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has officially endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain in their primary race for re-election, ending a rift with two of GOP’s most influential figures.
The New York billionaire made the announcements at a campaign event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Friday.
"We will have disagreements, but we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory. And very importantly, toward real change," Trump said. "So in our shared mission, to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House, Paul Ryan."
The endorsement came four days after Trump said he was “not quite there yet” on endorsing Ryan, echoing a similar comment by the House speaker, who said on May 6, "I'm not there right now" when asked about whether he would support the real-estate magnate.
US Senator John McCain of Arizona (L) and House Speaker Paul Ryan
Ryan will face his underdog challenger Paul Nehlen in Wisconsin primary on Tuesday. Nehlen has used the Trump-Ryan row to his own benefit.
Trump also expressed his support for Senators John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, retracting his comments from earlier this week that he will not support them.
"And while I'm at it, I hold in the highest esteem Sen. John McCain for his service to our country in uniform and in public office, and I fully support and endorse his re-election. I also fully support and endorse Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire," he said in his speech.
Trump’s initial refusal to back Ryan sparked outrage among party leaders such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a very close ally of Ryan who is also from Wisconsin.
Priebus said in a tweet on Friday that he and his wife voted for Ryan.
Trump’s vice presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, also broke with the bombastic billionaire over supporting Ryan.
"I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election," Pence told Fox News. "He is a longtime friend. He's a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States."
Ryan has yet to respond to Trump’s endorsement. Earlier on Friday, he said that he was not waiting for an endorsement and was “not going to get involved in some sort of petty back and forth.”