Two top congressional Republicans who were previously critical of President-elect Donald Trump are working to bridge the gap with him after his election win Tuesday night.
Last month, when a leaked 2005 video showed Trump boasting about being able to sexually assault women by grabbing them in their genitals without consent, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he would not defend the Republican presidential nominee; nor would he campaign with him.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who actually endorsed Trump as the Republican presidential nominee, called on him to apologize for his crude comments about women after the videotape was leaked.
McConnell then told a chamber of commerce audience in his home state of Kentucky that he had no observations to make about the presidential election because his observations “are immediately sort of spun around the world.”
NPR reports that both Ryan and McConnell changed their tunes Wednesday and worked quickly to mend fences with Trump and make the case that he will sign their policy agendas into law.
Speaking at a press conference in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., on Wednesday, Ryan congratulated Trump and called his victory “the most incredible political feat” he had seen in his lifetime.
No love has been lost between the president-elect and Ryan, who had previously been critical of Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. Ryan called Trump’s criticism of a Mexican-American federal judge “racist,” and denounced Trump’s feud with the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq.
For his part, Trump called Ryan a “disloyal Republican” and a “very weak and ineffective leader.”
When it became apparent that Trump would win the Electoral College vote, Ryan switched gears and commended the president-elect for minimizing losses for congressional Republicans, NPR reports.
“Look at it this way,” Ryan said. “Donald Trump provided the kind of coattails that got a lot of people over the finish line so that we could maintain our strong House and Senate majorities.”
When reporters pressed Ryan about his relationship with Trump, he said, “I think our relationship is fine.”
McConnell, who was also previously critical of Trump’s views on immigration, issued a statement saying that Trump’s victory was “clearly an indication the American people would like to try something new.”
“When people were voting for change, they didn’t decide they wanted to change the Republican Senate,” McConnell said.
It is important to note that Trump won the Electoral College vote and not the popular vote, so statements indicating that “the people” wanted him may be a bit of a stretch.
Read more at NPR.