House Speaker Paul Ryan sought to present a united front with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on trade issues, despite their differing perspectives on international trade deals.
"He wants to get good trade agreements," Ryan told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview Wednesday. "So do I."
Ryan's remarks come shortly after Trump sharply criticized trade agreements in a speech at a western Pennsylvania Rust Belt town earlier this week, blaming globalization for having "wiped out totally, totally our middle class." Trump further called the landmark Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that involves a "death blow for American manufacturing."
At another event Tuesday in Ohio, the real estate mogul added that TPP was "just a continuing rape of our country."
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country," Trump said.
Trump's comments drew harsh rebukes from historically Republican-backing business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which tweeted Tuesday that the GOP candidate's trade plans would lead to "higher prices, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy."
Ryan himself has, in the past, offered support for the trade packages pushed by President Obama and spoken highly of trade deals.
Prior to taking office as House speaker in June of 2015, Ryan had told NPR that trade deals would help the U.S. "set the standards for the global economy." Defending against accusations that TPP would cost American jobs, Ryan told the radio news outlet: Since 2007, "there have been 100 trade agreements struck around the world without America. And that means other countries are already doing this, getting better access, getting better market access, and we're not, and that means we lose jobs."
Ryan echoed that statement in his recent comments to the Journal Sentinel.
"I do clearly think it's important for America to lead in the world, and to write the rules of the global economy, so that we set the standards -- versus our competitors like China writing the rules of the global economy. So we need to engage," Ryan said.
Of Trump, he added: "What I have heard from him, is that we need to engage, that we need to have very good trade agreements that are good for America. And I agree with that."
He added that he wanted "to make sure is that we don't retreat from the world, because then China and others will write the rules," saying such a stance "would be a mistake."
Asked about his thoughts on Trump's "rape" remark regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership, Ryan declined to discuss it.
"I just for the first time heard that," he told the Wisconsin paper. "So I'm not going to comment on that."