House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., criticized Republicans on Sunday for using identity politics to gin up support among the GOP base, contributing to the increasingly bitter political rhetoric in the country.
"Identity politics is unfortunately working and I think we, as leaders, need to figure out" how to make it stop, he said on CBS's "Face the Nation," adding that some Republicans employ the strategy.
President Trump routinely uses intense political rhetoric to drive support among his core Republican backers on issues like healthcare and immigration. In recent weeks, Trump called a woman trying to sue him "horseface," said a GOP lawmaker who assaulted a reporter in 2017 was "my kind of guy" and blamed Democrats for a migrant caravan from Central America.
Asked about Trump's contribution to the current political climate, Ryan claimed the president's support for tax reform and other policy initiatives "are things that he has led us to that has really brought people together" by reducing economic anxiety.
"If we can pass policies that help improve people's lives ... then they'll be less prone to be swayed by the kind of tribalism, identity politics," he said.
Asked on "Meet the Press" about Trump's comments, Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he "sometimes" disagrees with the way the president treats people.
"I thought after the pipe bombs he initially set the right tone of unity and coming together. And I hope that he will continue," he said, referring to the recent shipments of pipe bombs to top Democratic officials.
Ryan also argued that the media plays a role in driving political division, arguing that news outlets favor controversy-driven stories that can garner higher web traffic over articles on topics like bipartisan legislation in Congress.