Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told "Face the Nation" in an interview set to air in full on Sunday that he'd "be okay" with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, as speaker of the House, despite the fact that Ryan "doesn't seem to want" the job.
"Well, I think he's somebody that probably that could get good support," Trump said of Ryan, who has been pressured by GOP lawmakers to enter the leadership race since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, abruptly removed himself from consideration Thursday. "I think he's a very nice person. I think he doesn't want it very badly, but you never know. Maybe he's playing one of the great games of all time. It is Speaker of the House, I mean, it's a great position. But he doesn't seem to want it. But I'll bet you that if it was actually offered to him, he would take it."
"Face the Nation" host John Dickerson noted Trump's suggestion that the next speaker should be "strong," asking the Republican candidate whether Ryan fits that description.
"I think he's strong," Trump said, but he added that he disagrees with Ryan's proposed entitlement reforms.
"I think that when Mitt Romney chose him last time, it was a tough choice because he's been so anti-Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, in a sense. You know, he would say he hasn't been, but they certainly played that up hard. And that was a disastrous campaign for a lot of reasons," Trump explained. "But Paul Ryan's a good man. I know him very little, but I think he's a very good person."
And when Dickerson asked whether he'd be okay with Ryan as speaker, Trump replied, "I would be okay."
Still, Trump cautioned, "It may not be him. I mean, they have a couple of people in there, I'm not going to mention names. But people I know that are really tough and really smart. And right now, that's what we need because the Republicans never win. John, they never win. Everything, whether it's on Obamacare, whether it's on the debt ceiling, no matter what we have, there's never, ever a victory. So we need a toughness and we just don't have there right now."
Trump was also asked why he publicly took credit for McCarthy's decision not to run for speaker, and he suggested his decision to criticize McCarthy may have had an impact.
"I've been taking a little bit of credit because people have been giving me credit on [my Twitter feed.] They're saying that I spoke up against him only because it's a question of toughness," Trump explained. "He didn't seem like that. We need toughness. We need fists, we need the brainpower, and we need toughness."
Trump criticized McCarthy's suggestion that the House committee investigating Benghazi was responsible for depressing Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, saying the gaffe may have played a role in the majority leader's decision to bow out of the leadership race.
"When he made the statement on Benghazi, it was a tough statement. It was a really bad statement for Republicans, and even for the nation in a sense. Because he so disparaged what's going on," Trump explained. "And I happen to believe that what they're doing is the right thing and they're doing it for the right reason. But it was so disparaging to what's taking place with respect to Hillary Clinton and that whole fiasco that maybe she created. And I didn't like seeing that."
For the full interview with Trump, tune into "Face the Nation" on Sunday. Check your local listings for airtimes.