WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan distanced himself Monday from President Donald Trump’s criticism of British officials over the handling of a terror attack this weekend.
“We are Great Britain’s greatest ally in the war on terror,” Ryan said after a visit to Dallas. “That doesn’t need to be said but it should be repeated. Right now the proper message to send is solidarity with the people of London.”
“Obviously, his style is different and we live in the digital age,” Ryan said of the president’s response, which began with tweets criticizing London’s mayor and using the attack to promote his proposed travel ban on residents of Muslim-majority countries.
Ryan was in Dallas last Wednesday as part of a two-day swing through Texas that included stops in Midland, Temple and San Antonio. He raised funds for special House elections this year and to stockpile resources for next year’s midterm elections, with time set aside to visit local charities.
In Dallas, he and former President George W. Bush visited the Adaptive Training Foundation — a nonprofit founded by former NFL linebacker David Vobora in 2014 to work with athletes who’ve lost a limb or have other major physical impairments. Many are military veterans. The nine-week program aims to build both physical and mental strength.
Ryan, speaking by phone from Kenosha, Wis., on Monday, was careful in comparing Bush and Trump.
“They’re all so different from one another. This is the fourth president I’ve served with,” he said.
Asked about the push to impeach Trump by Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, Ryan called the question “ridiculous” and declined to dignify the idea by discussing it.
He was more eager to discuss the visit to Vobora’s foundation, where he and Bush spent time with 10 veterans.
“What David Vobora did is pretty astounding, which is giving amputees — double and triple amputees — not just a physical therapy routine but an attitude change. They’re giving these guys something to look forward to, and the motivation that comes with this,” Ryan said.
Vobora spent three seasons with the St. Louis Rams and a fourth with the Seattle Seahawks. As the final pick of the 2008 draft, he acquired the nickname “Mr. Irrelevant.” In early 2004, he met Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, one of five surviving quadruple amputees from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Nine months later, he had opened the foundation.
Ryan called it “just an incredibly humbling experience” to see Vobora’s work with veterans in Dallas.
“These guys, against all odds, stuck with it. They continued to fight and they are living life to their fullest, and he has been able to put the kind of motivation in them that they have a strong, fulfilling life ahead of them,” he said.
Ryan is no stranger to the gym. He’s an ardent follower of the P90X regimen, which involves grueling 60- to 90-minute workouts six days a week.
“I was really impressed with not just the physical aspect of it but the psychological, mental, inspiring aspect of what the Adaptive Training Foundation does. It takes these warriors and gets them ready to tackle whatever else is left in their life, and these men have exciting lives to look forward to,” he said. “There is a model here that needs to be shared and replicated.”
This was Ryan’s third fundraising visit to Dallas in the last few months. The city is an important source of donations for both parties, and the same day he was in town, so were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee last year.
Democrats are targeting at least three Texas Republicans in congressional races next year, including Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Dallas. Ryan said he’s unconcerned.
“I’m very confident that Pete is strong as ever and he’s going to be just fine,” he said. But he added: “We have a big House majority that’s going to need defending. That’s one of the primary jobs of the speaker is to make sure that we have the resources to do that.”
Ryan also defended Trump’s decision last week to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
“America’s already shown through technology and innovation that we can have strong economic growth and reduce emissions,” he said, adding, “The president had every reason and right to withdraw from Paris, and I support his decision.”
In San Antonio, he toured Haven for Hope with Sen. John Cornyn, a group that provides homeless people with shelter and a comprehensive set of services. Ryan called it a “national model.”