Former House Speaker Paul Ryan says “staying faithful to the conservative principles” that unite all wings of the GOP is essential for the resurgence of the Republican Party.
Ryan, speaking Thursday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., also warned that conservatives must be careful “not to get caught up in every little cultural battle” at the expense of policy solutions.
TOP REPUBLICANS FLOCK TO REAGAN LIBRARY TO SPEAK OUT ON GOP’S FUTURE
And the Republican from Wisconsin – who gave the kick-off address of the “Time for Choosing” speaking series focusing on the critical questions concerning the future of the GOP – stressed that the party needs to lessen its reliance “on the populist appeal” of former President Trump in order to succeed.
The speaking series launched as the GOP searches for the best path forward after losing the White House and the Senate in the 2020 elections. And it comes as the 2022 midterm election cycle – where the Republicans aim to win back both chambers of Congress – starts to heat up and as Trump vows to remain a kingmaker in party politics as he repeatedly flirts with a 2024 White House run.
Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, noted that “once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads.”
And Ryan, who had a tense relationship with Trump from the 2016 presidential campaign through his final two years as speaker during the first half of Trump’s administration, argued that “if the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or of second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere.”
“Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle,” Ryan noted. “We win majorities by directing our loyalty and respect to voters, and by staying faithful to the conservative principles that unite us.”
JIM JORDAN PROMISES ‘INSIDE LOOK’ AT GOP BATTLES IN NEW BOOK
But Ryan also praised some of the former president’s achievements while in the White House.
Pointing to the nation’s economic successes and job growth before the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation early last year, Ryan said: “These historic reforms were a triumph of practical conservative policy, a model of the shared prosperity and upward mobility we have always talked about. It was the populism of President Trump in action, tethered to conservative principles.”
Ryan said he was “proud of the longstanding promises Republicans made good on in those years. By any measure, it is a plus that we are now a party that more working people can identify with, a party that takes American sovereignty and the security of our border seriously.”
He also took aim at his party’s seeming emphasis on cultural issues.
“As the left gets more ‘woke,’ the rest of America is getting weary. This stuff is exhausting. And we conservatives have to be careful not to get caught up in every little cultural battle,” Ryan said. “Sometimes these skirmishes are just creations of outrage peddlers, detached from reality and not worth anybody’s time. They draw attention away from the far more important case we must make to the American people.”
HOUSE GOP REELECTION ARM POSTS RECORD-BREAKING APRIL FUNDRAISING HAUL
And he argued that while culture matters, “our party must be defined by more than a tussle over the latest grievance or perceived slight. We must not let them take priority over solutions – grounded in principle – to improve people’s lives.”
Ryan, a member of the Fox Corporation board of directors, also targeted President Biden, saying that “in 2020, the country wanted a nice guy who would move to the center and depolarize our politics.
“Instead, we got a nice guy pursuing an agenda more leftist than any president in my lifetime,” he charged. “These policies might have the full approval of his progressive supporters, but they break faith with the middle-of-the-road folks who made the difference for him on Election Day.”
But looking to the future, Ryan saw a silver lining in the GOP’s 2020 defeats. “For conservatives, this painful existence as the opposition can actually be an opportunity,” he said. “Out of these years can come a healthy, growing, and united conservative movement, a movement that speaks again to the heart of a great nation.”
Among those following Ryan in the speaking series are former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas – all of whom are considered to be possible GOP candidates in the next race for the White House.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Ryan praised Reagan, saying “even forty years after President Reagan’s first inauguration, we all remember him with a special respect and affection.”