Last Updated:November 28 @ 09:49 am

Ryan addresses conservatives in Washington on direction of GOP

By The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House budget chair Paul Ryan told a gathering of conservatives here Saturday that the right needs to offer a smarter, more prudent and constructive opposition to President Barack Obama, fighting him on some issues but engaging him on others, and accepting even tiny victories when they present themselves.

Gov. Scott Walker echoed some of those same themes in a speech and interview at the same event.

"We've got to offer a big, bold, positive, optimistic alternative to the president's agenda. Just being no, just being a stopgap isn't enough," said Walker in the interview. "You'd be hard-pressed to ask most Americans what the . . . Republican agenda coming out of the federal government is that's relevant to their life."

Walker spoke in the interview after addressing a conference on the future of conservatism.

Ryan and Walker were two of the featured speakers at the event, which comes as Republicans are asking themselves how to provide a more effective counterweight to the Democratic president, having failed last fall to take back the White House or Senate.

Ryan, part of the losing 2012 GOP ticket, is preaching "prudence" to his party -- not a typical rallying cry of today's conservatives, but one that Ryan suggested is an underappreciated conservative principle.

Ryan talked Saturday about picking the right battles, accepting small victories when bigger ones aren't within reach, being smarter tactically, and tolerating internal differences without lapsing into public infighting.

"I'm not saying we should be excessively cautious. When we see an opening however small we should take it," Ryan told an audience of several hundred at a D.C. hotel.

The Janesville congressman pitched "prudence" to his audience as a means of opposing Obama more effectively, not diluting conservative principles.

"He wants to perpetuate progressive government for at least a generation. Why? Because he thinks that's the right thing to do," Ryan said of Obama.

"To do that he needs to delegitimize the Republican Party and House Republicans in particular. He'll try to divide us with phony emergencies and bogus deals. He'll try to get us to fight with each other -- to question each other's motives -- so we don't challenge him . . . We can't let that happen. We have to be smart. We have to show prudence . . . We can't get rattled."

He said Republicans should not be baited into "playing the villain" in Obama's "morality play."

Walker's talk

In his own speech, Walker said that despite poor results in the presidential and Senate elections, Republicans should be optimistic because of the party's recent success in state elections.

"The conservative movement more often than not comes from state and local government, not from Washington," he said.

He also urged Republicans to be optimistic in tone, talk about their ideas in ways that are more relevant to people's lives, and not be afraid to stick their necks out.

In an interview afterward, Walker said:

"Having leaders here (in D.C.) who just object to everything, it becomes almost a knee-jerk reaction. (People) go, 'Oh, there they go again,' versus, 'We'll work with you on some things, but where you're fundamentally wrong, that's where we're going to stand up and object.' I think that's much more powerful."

Walker said GOP candidate Mitt Romney's big failing was trying to make the election a pure referendum on Obama without offering a more positive agenda of his own.

"I don't think most people could identify what he was for. You can't just run a referendum on the opponent, particularly on the incumbent. You've got to offer some viable alternative. It's the same problem Tommy (Thompson) had in Wisconsin when they branded him as 'not caring about us anymore.' There was no alternative to say, 'Yeah Tommy (does care) and here's what he's going to do for you as senator.' All they thought was, 'Hey, he's saying he's Tommy and don't you remember me?' Well, a lot of voters didn't remember him, and those that did, didn't know how that translated to where he was going forward."

During panel discussions at the event, some conservative analysts faulted their side for "choking off debate" within the GOP and demanding too much ideological conformity. Some faulted the party for failing to more aggressively court voters outside the party's base. Some urged the party to speak more directly to bread-and-butter, populist concerns such as the cost of education and health care, and chastised the GOP for using harsh and unfriendly rhetoric on issues such as immigration. Some complained that with a few exceptions, Republican members of Congress wasn't generating new policy ideas.


(c)2013 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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  1. kngplyrComment by kngplyr
    January 27, 2013 @ 9:06 am

    Stand up and tell the American people the TRUTH about the Progressive agenda and show the proof. The Republicrats are so afraid of saying anything remotely negative about the Democrats. We get nothing but lies and propaganda from the Dems and then you read there is a bipartisan group having SECRET meetings about immigration. Why secret? How is that any different than Reid and Pelosi? Stand up for something and do it publicly. You will get your paycheck and benefits for life, so what exactly is the problem?

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    • my04301933Comment by my04301933
      January 27, 2013 @ 9:27 am

      I think the governor from Wisconsin, as well as Ryan, simply recognize what we out here do…

      There is NO LEADERSHIP in the G.O.P….our elected Congress men and women are looking for some sort of STRONG and DECISIVE LEADERSHIP within their ranks and there isn’t any…

      That’s why many of us are ex-members of either party..

      And are looking elsewhere for answers…and it ain’t Obama

      Its that simple..

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    • teapartyproudComment by teapartyproud
      January 27, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

      The dems were brilliant in putting Obama in power as their candidate. Everyone is so afraid of being called a racist. When the dems bring up that weaka$$ argument, they need to be derisively scoffed at and dismissed as the true racists. That word only has power if you allow it to affect you.

      kngplyr is dead on correct. The Repubs need to push back hard against the socialist agenda and stop being so timid and afraid to offend anyone. You cannot win anything with that frame of mind.

      If you follow God’s word first and the constitution next, you cannot go wrong. The dems do neither. If the Republicans would do that instead of trying to figure out how to placate “independents” and new special interests and being “democrat lite” they would be unstoppable.

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  2. Son Of ThunderComment by mcrank
    January 27, 2013 @ 11:21 am

    Finally, Ryan, Walker, and Boehner, have said inside what those of us outside have been saying for some time. Hopefully, things have finally come into focus and will translate into a more aggressive approach in confronting the Liberals as well as educating the low information voters.

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    • cdrcodyComment by cdrcody
      January 28, 2013 @ 1:40 am

      You can hope but don’t count on it. Maybe those guys might try but nothing will come of it. As long as those old coots in the party leadership stay there they will keep the young fellows with the good ideas away from being effective.

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  3. my04301933Comment by my04301933
    January 27, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

    I got carried away on my last post…it came out like SPAM…my apologies ladies and gentlemen…I shall try to be more aware of the rules of this opportunity to talk with each other.

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  4. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    January 27, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    As it is, we pick our candidates according to their telling us what they want to do if elected. Of course there are personal traits that we use to determine our choice. When it is all said and done, and the polls are closed, it is not a good feeling to find your choice lost and even worse, no one really knows who won, unless a person behind the scenes who is altering the results. Who is to say it is not all just a big lie ? Regardless of who won, they don’t fulfill the promise they said they would do in so many cases. Even when at the polls discussions can be overheard that tells you some voting know less about the candidates than they do about how they got from their home to the polls.

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  5. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    January 27, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

    The talk is right. Republicans are guilty of not telling the people what is going on in DC, not even that much campaigning. So, in turn they lose gold stars and cheer leaders. Last session was one of the baddest coupled up to a wagon load of spending. Who woulda thunk it ?

    Then along comes the Democrats. Didn’t really matter what they said or how they said it as long as they made the other guy look bad. Flower that in with promises for purdy and drop some real nasty lies. Now you have just wut the people want. And the Republicans go walking, heads down, kicking cans, hands in pockets, saying; Why didn’t we do that ? LOL
    It isn’t funny but LOL anyway.

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