Paul Ryan: We Should Not Scare Voters And Insult Opponents

Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET

In a speech on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called for more civility in politics, slamming the divisive and ugly rhetoric that has dominated the presidential election cycle.

Ryan did not mention the presidential campaign or Donald Trump, but warned against playing into voters’ “anxieties” and insulting opponents.

“All of us as leaders can hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and decency. Instead of playing to your anxieties, we can appeal to your aspirations. Instead of playing the identity politics of ‘our base’ and ‘their base,’ we unite people around ideas and principles. And instead of being timid, we go bold,” he said in his prepared remarks. “We don’t resort to scaring you, we dare to inspire you. We don’t just oppose someone or something. We propose a clear and compelling alternative.”

Ryan said that politics should be a “battle of ideas, not a battle of insults.”

The Speaker himself admitted to using words he regrets, using the phrase “makers” and “takers” while discussing those who receive financial assistance.

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On Wednesday, Ryan said those remarks were “callous” and “oversimplified” and that he “castigated people with a broad brush.”

“Most people don’t want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong. I shouldn’t castigate a large group of Americans to make a point,” he said in his prepared remarks.

The Speaker lamented the state of political discourse, noting that “it did not use to be this bad.”

“Looking around at what’s taking place in politics today, it is easy to get disheartened. How many of you find yourself just shaking your head at what you see from both sides?” he asked.

He said that some skepticism is healthy, but added, “When people distrust politics, they come to distrust institutions. They lose faith in their government and the future too.”

“We can acknowledge this. But we can’t accept this. And we can’t enable it either. My dad used to say, you are either part of the problem, or part of the solution,” Ryan said.

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