WASHINGTON Rep. Paul Ryan said Saturday that Republicans need to stick together and pick their fights during President Barack Obama’s second term, rejecting some White House proposals outright and trying to infuse others with conservative principles.
In a speech to conservatives, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee said Obama would attempt to divide Republicans but urged them to avoid internal squabbles after a second straight presidential loss.
“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’s weekend conference on the future of conservatism. “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 his proposals with conservative principles.
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, N.C.
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.