Republicans need to pick fights with Obama: Ryan
APWASHINGTON -- The 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee said Saturday that the party needs to stick together and pick its fights during President Barack Obama's new term as it seeks to rebound from a second straight presidential loss.
January 28, 2013, 11:49 am TWN
In a speech to conservatives, Rep. Paul Ryan said Republicans should reject some White House proposals outright and try to infuse others with conservative principles. He warned that Obama would attempt to divide Republicans.
“We can't get rattled. We won't play the villain in his morality plays. We have to stay united,” Ryan said at the National Review Institute event. “We have to show that if given the chance, we can govern. We have better ideas.”
The Wisconsin congressman outlined a pragmatic approach for a party dealing with last November's election defeats and trying to determine whether to oppose Obama's agenda at every turn or shape the president's proposals with conservative principles.
With a surging minority population altering the electorate, Republican leaders have discussed the need to attract more women and Hispanics while at the same time standing firm to the values that unite conservatives.
How the party moves forward was a major theme of the three-day meeting of conservative activists who also heard from Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia were scheduled to address the conference on Sunday.
The theme also dominated the Republican National Committee's winter meeting, which ended Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina.
With a surging minority population altering the electorate, Republican leaders have discussed the need to attract more women and Hispanics while at the same time standing firm on the values that unite conservatives. Republicans said despite the losses, the party could return to power by projecting optimism and attracting new voters with a message of economic opportunity.
Walker, a star among conservatives after surviving a union-led campaign to recall him from office in Wisconsin, said government needed “brown-bag common sense,” a reference to his frugal practice of packing his own lunch of ham-and-cheese sandwiches every day. Qualities like optimism, staying relevant to voters and showing courage in tackling big problems would be rewarded at the voting booth, he said.
“We've got to learn to be more optimistic. We've got to learn to give a viable alternative to the voters,” Walker said.
Cruz said Republicans needed to use upcoming fights over the budget and the deficit as “leverage points” to tame long-term spending and debt. Projecting an upbeat outlook for the party, he said Obama's policies would drive many voters to Republicans just as many Americans turned to Ronald Reagan after the economic turmoil of the late 1970s.
“We're on the verge of a rebirth of conservativism,” Cruz said.
Looking ahead, Ryan rejected the notion that Republicans were “in the wilderness,” noting that the party controls the House of Representsatives and most statehouses. But he said Obama's victory over Mitt Romney meant that Republicans would need to recalibrate their approach to deal with the new political realities.
“If we want to promote conservatism, we'll need to use every tool at our disposal,” Ryan said. “Sometimes, we will have to reject the president's proposals — that time may come more than once. And sometimes we'll have to make them better.” He said Republicans should have two main goals for the next four years, namely “to mitigate bad policies” and “to advance good policy wherever we can.”