Columns

Ryan: What Reince Priebus 'Has Done to Rebuild Our Party is Remarkable'

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaks during a news conference in Janesville, Wisc., on Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters today that what Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus “has done to rebuild our party is remarkable” and Donald Trump “provided the kind of coat tails that got a lot of people over the finish line so the we could maintain our strong House and Senate majorities.”

“Look at it this way. Our House majority is bigger than expected. We won more seats than anyone expected, and much of that is thanks to Donald Trump,” Ryan said at a press conference in Janesville, Wis., where he won re-election Tuesday with 65 percent of the vote.

Ryan said he wants to move forward with a “unified Republican government” based on the “A Better Way” vision for America that the GOP leadership released before the election.

“There is no doubt our democracy can be very messy and we do remain a sharply divided country. But now, as we do every four years, we have to work to heal the divisions of a long campaign. I think president-elect Donald Trump set the perfect tone last night for doing just this,” he said.

“And I know President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to bringing the country together. This needs to be a time of redemption, not a time of recrimination. We all need to rededicate ourselves to making America great and making it a more perfect union.”

Despite Trump’s back-and-forths with Ryan over the course of the campaign, including Trump promoting Ryan’s primary challenger who lost by a heavy margin, the speaker insisted “our relationship’s fine.”

Ryan said he’d spoken twice with Trump since he won the presidency and twice with “my good friend Mike Pence.”

“I think what Donald Trump just pulled off is an enormous political feat. It’s an enormous feat in that he heard those voices that were out there that other people weren’t hearing. And he just earned a mandate. And we now just have a unified Republican government,” he added.

Asked if Trump supports him remaining as speaker of House, Ryan said the two had “great conversations about how we work together on the transition to make this work.”

Ryan said it’s “not just the healthcare law that we can replace, because we now have shown the willingness and the ability to do it,” but “there are so many more things that I am excited about” such as legislative moves to “lift the oppressive weight of the regulatory state.”

“And there are various different kinds of conservatives and different kinds of Republicans. We all come from different corners of our party. The key here is not only to unify and merge these approaches, as you just described, but to also invite everyone else in the country to get us focused on our solutions,” he continued. “What I see here is great potential. What I see here is with a unified government and not having more of this protracted, divided government that has been plaguing us for so many years.”

Ryan said he doesn’t think “people should be worried about civil liberties being violated” by a Trump administration because “take a look at the judges that he’s already said he would choose from to put on the Supreme Court.”