CHICAGO — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Friday that to usher in an American “comeback,” the Republican Party needs a “mandate election,” similar to the one that swept Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980.
“I think America is due for a comeback, and the good thing about it is we basically know what we need to do to stage this comeback. The challenge is, we’re going to have to win elections to do that,” the former vice presidential nominee told a ballroom full of Republican National Committee members here at their summer meeting.
“We’re going to have to elect leaders who will not only say who they are, show what they believe, offer solutions. Then we have to get a mandate election. We’re going to have to have another 1980s-like election.”
He added: “So there’s really one hope for us — and that is our party gets its act together and we start winning elections.”
He said that President Obama and congressional Democrats had given Republicans an opportunity in 2016 because, during Obama’s first few years in office, “they got everything they wanted but cap and trade, which now they’re trying to do with a phone and a pen.”
But because Democrats delayed implementation of many of those policies until after the 2012 elections, Ryan said, the GOP had been campaigning against big government “in theory.”
Now that those policies are in effect, “the results are so far untethered from the rhetoric that was used to sell it. There is, in my opinion, a realization in this country that, ‘Oh, all this big government isn’t cracked up to what they said it would be.’ This gives us an opportunity,” he said.
But to take advantage of that opportunity, Ryan urged the GOP to be a party of “alternatives.”
“We cannot define ourselves by what we are against, we have to define ourselves on what we aspire to be,” he told the crowd.
He said Democrats are the party to “play identity politics.”
“Let’s let them use their 21st century whiz bang gizmo technology system to try to slice and dice and carve and segregate people in its own voting blocks to get to 50 plus 1. Let’s let them play that game. We need to unify people in this country,” Ryan said.
“We will not appeal to the emotions of fear and anxiety. We will appeal to the emotions of hope, opportunity, of growth, of a better future for your kids.”