House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered up a thinly veiled repudiation of the Tea Party and the 2016 Republican field in a Wednesday speech at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit.
In a call to unite conservatives, Ryan said, “We win when we have an ideas contest. We lose when we have a personality contest. We can’t fall into the progressives’ trap of acting like angry reactionaries.”
The speaker accused President Barack Obama of trying to “distract” the American electorate into voting for a Democrat, and urged conservative politicians to focus on achievable goals that are important to their base.
“We can’t promise that we can repeal Obamacare when a guy with the last name Obama is president. All that does is set us up for failure . . . and disappointment . . . and recriminations,” Ryan pleaded.
He continued: “When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House. We can’t do that anymore.”
In a clear nod to the 2016 race, Ryan also insisted the Republican Party needs to be “inclusive” and propose positive policy ideas rather than preying on voters’ anger. GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have both made forceful calls to deport undocumented immigrants and surveil Muslim Americans at mosques.
“We need to be inclusive,” Ryan said. “We need to show how our principles and policies are universal and how they apply to everybody. We know that the economy is weak. We know that the world is on fire. We know that the future is uncertain. There’s a lot of frustration and anger out there. And is it justified? It sure is. But we should not follow the Democrats and play identity politics.”
Ryan rose to power on an anti-establishment populist wave, and came from the House to be Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election. He has fallen out of favor with the Tea Party since moving up the ranks in Washington.