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Paul Ryan officially endorses Trump

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Donald Trump on Thursday, ending an extraordinary public split between the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee and the nation’s highest-ranking Republican office holder.

Ryan outlined his support for the New York billionaire in a column published in his hometown newspaper, declaring his goal to “unite the party so we can win in the fall.”

“It’s no secret that he and I have our differences. I won’t pretend otherwise,” Ryan wrote. “And when I feel the need to, I’ll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”

Trump, Ryan said, “would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives. That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.”

While Ryan did not explicitly say he was endorsing Trump, spokesman Brendan Buck wrote on Twitter that the column marked a formal endorsement.

Ryan shocked the political world last month by refusing to endorse Trump once he became the last major Republican presidential contender still in the race. The pair met privately in a series of Washington meetings last month and their campaigns have maintained contact.

Ryan’s announcement was released the same time that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was delivering a foreign policy speech excoriating Trump’s foreign policy.

This story will be updated.

Associated Press reporter Steve Peoples wrote this report.

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