House Speaker Paul Ryan ripped Democrats Wednesday for engaging in "a publicity stunt" with their sit-in on the chamber's floor to get votes on gun control instead of focusing on the real issue — terrorism.
"Let's focus on the issue at hand, terrorism, find out what we have to do," the Wisconsin Republican told Wolf Blitzer on CNN
. "If a person is on a terror watch list and they try to buy a gun, we have procedures to deal with that.
"We want those done correctly. That's something we should do in a calm, cool manner without the publicity-stunt tactics to try to bring a bill that already died in the Senate to the House floor."
Nearly all of the chamber's 188 Democrats, led by Georgia Rep. John Lewis, began their effort shortly after 11:30 a.m., suspending all action in the House
and vowing to remain in place until Ryan held a vote on gun-control measures following the deadly terrorist shootings in Orlando.
The proposals included expanding background checks and blocking gun purchases by some suspected terrorists. The House has 247 Republicans.
Ryan told Blitzer that similar proposals were rejected on Monday in the Senate, which also is under GOP control, and they would violate the Second Amendment.
"We will not bring forth a bill that takes away a person's Constitutional guaranteed rights without due process. We don't agree with that.
"The Senate already doesn't agree with that," he continued. "I think the point here, Wolf, is this is a publicity stunt."
Turning to presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump's speech slamming Democrat Hillary Clinton, Ryan told Blitzer that he did not hear or read the presentation but that "my understanding is that he gave a good speech dealing with the race and the person he is running against — and that's what he should do."
He declined to comment on specific Trump attacks, but did agree with the billionaire's longtime assertion that the Obama administration "screwed up" many elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal signed in February with 12 Asian countries.
"TPP has to get worked out to be better. Potentially, it has great promise — but I believe the administration screwed up a number of things.
"I don't think it is ready to go, to pass," Ryan said. "The administration made some critical mistakes negotiating this trade agreement, but I hope we can get a good one.
"I hope we can change it to make it a world-class agreement."
The speaker also said that he was not planning to raise money for Trump for November, as his responsibility is working to get House candidates elected.
"I have no plans to, but basically because I am helping House Republicans. Now that I am speaker, my goal is House Republicans, keeping a strong majority."
While Ryan said he did have some trust issues with Trump, any Republican president — even "a Donald Trump Republican president" — was far better than Clinton.
"I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president," he told Blitzer. "I don't know how much clearer I can be on that."
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