House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stepped before the microphones in his new job for the first time after a closed GOP caucus meeting, declaring that “we need to do more” and “we need to be more specific.”
“I think we need to be more bold. Look, I really, truly believe that the next handful of years will determine what kind of country we’re going to have for a long time,” Ryan said.
“We are in a generational defining moment, and that is why if we don’t believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction — we don’t think that it is, we think the president has been leading it in the wrong direction. We think a Hillary Clinton presidency will continue leading the country in the wrong direction. That is why we feel that we have an obligation to the hard-working citizens of this country to show them how we would do things differently to tackle our country’s problems before they tackle us and to get things fixed, to advance our principles, to show how we can make things better for people who are struggling in America.”
Asked about GOP presidential candidates contending that Republican leaders in Congress are the problem, Ryan replied, “Look, I’m not concerned about the presidential election. That’s going to work itself out.”
“What I am concerned about is making sure that we do our jobs here. We were elected by our constituents to represent their interests here in Congress. And that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
“Also, I said this on Thursday to my colleagues and together, we’re going to go on offense. We’re going to go on offense on ideas, and give the country a bold alternative agenda because we don’t think the country’s heading in the right direction right now. We think the last seven years have been bad years for advancing the American idea, for helping hard-working taxpayers, for helping working people who are struggling to get ahead. We need to go a different direction. And we owe it to the country to show that different direction. So that’s what we’re going to focus on and we’re not going to worry about who is doing what in a presidential election.”
Ryan was asked about his vow not to work with the White House on immigration reform, prompting the administration to call him a hypocrite.
“Look, my positions are very well known and unchanged on this issue. But I think given the fact that the president tried to do an end-run around Congress, to go it alone, to try and write laws himself unilaterally, which is not what presidents do, that’s what Congress does, I think on this particular issue he’s proved himself untrustworthy on this,” he said.
“On issues such as border enforcement and interior enforcement, where I think we all have consensus, I think that would be fine if we can advance that. But I do believe that if we try to move in a comprehensive way with a president who’s proven that he wants to go it alone, I don’t think that works.”