Republicans candidates must run on repealing Democrats' healthcare reform bill in 2010, one of their top House members said Wednesday night.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, encouraged candidates to run on full-scale repeal of health reform, which he conceded was likely to pass.

"As Republicans present the nation with an alternative in 2010, our message on healthcare cannot be: 'We can fix and reform this bill,' " Ryan said at a lecture in Washington organized by the Michigan-based conservative Hillsdale College.


"Our message must be: 'We will repeal and replace this government takeover masked as healthcare reform,' " Ryan said.

Elected Republicans have been somewhat unwilling to pledge repeal of healthcare reform, knowing the long odds stacked against their party, both procedurally and politically, in doing so.

Still, conservative groups have held Republicans' feet to the fire. The Club for Growth, for instance, launched a new campaign to "Repeal the Bill" on Thursday.

That may become all the more important in the eyes of conservative activists if the bill passes, which Ryan predicted it would.

"The administration realizes that if this thing doesn't pass, they have a failed presidency on their hands," Ryan said.

And while GOP leadership in the House has stressed that the fight to block health reform isn't over — something Ryan echoed — the Wisconsin lawmaker predicted liberals would rather swallow distasteful elements of the legislation before letting it go down to defeat.