House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he’d enjoy having President Obama as a neighbor and that he has a “thick skin” about the stuff President-elect Trump has tweeted about him in the past.
“I like the man I know. I enjoy — he’d be a great next-door neighborhood. I just don’t like him as president,” Ryan told PBS after Obama’s final press conference Wednesday.
“He’s the guy who would shovel your walk, you know, on spring break with your kids during a snowstorm or something like that,” he added. “Let me start with some positive things. He’s a very good family man. I think he’s a great example as a good family man. And I think that’s important. I think he — this is a presidency of massive missed potential. I think he came in with a track record of being an ideologue, you know, very left progressive, so that — looked like that’s what he could become, but he ran a campaign in 2008 as a total moderate, as a moderate.”
Ryan said “the policies he put in place don’t and did not work, and I think that’s basically going to be the legacy.”
“As a human being, I like the man. As a dad and husband, I like the man. I don’t like him as a Bears fan,” he said. “We have, you know, healthy conversations about that, but that’s basically my assessment.”
On Obama’s outgoing popularity rating — 57 percent approval, in today’s Gallup tracking poll — Ryan said, “I can see that because he’s leaving. He’s a likable person. He’s an articulate person. Our economy isn’t terrible. It’s got a lot of missed potential.”
The speaker acknowledged that his relationship with Trump is “very good,” better than it was.
Before the election, Trump promoted Ryan’s primary challenger Paul Nehlen — Ryan decimated him, 84 percent to 16 percent — and tweeted that Ryan is a “very weak and ineffective leader,” among other things.
“In the campaign it wasn’t the best,” Ryan said. “First of all, I’m a big boy with thick skin. I’ve been around — like you said it’s my tenth term. I run on the national stage. So, I don’t worry about criticism. That doesn’t really affect me at this stage in my life. We constantly communicate and that constant communication has done a lot to build trust and to get to know each other much, much better.”
“…I didn’t know the guy. He didn’t know me, I didn’t know him. So during the campaign we did not speak frequently, and we had our exchanges and we have our differences. Since the election, we have labored — not labored as in exhausting, but we have worked hard and making sure we’re talking all the time. And we do that. I talked to him two nights ago.”
Those conversations, he said, are “almost always about the agenda that’s in place.”
“Mitch McConnell and I spent the last two months working with his team on piecing together a legislative plan and strategy for 2017, to make good on the promises all of us made to the public who elected us, and how we’re going to execute that,” Ryan said. “So almost all my conversations revolve around that, about the plans, where we’re going to go, sometimes its personal because he’s populating a cabinet, and those kinds of things. It’s all about how to fix these problems, how to get the process going, how to deliver on our objectives and our goals.”