Ryan: Virginia results show GOP needs to get tax reform done
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that the resounding Democratic victory in the race for Virginia governor shows that Republicans in Congress need to pass tax reform so they have something to run on in the 2018 midterm elections.
In an interview on Fox News host Brian Kilmeade’s radio show, Ryan tried to downplay what he described as “spin” from Democrats who are claiming the Tuesday night election wins as a sign of a backlash to President Trump as they seek to retake the House next year.
“Obviously, you know, Democrats are going to do that, and we would be saying the same kind of thing. That’s the way the spin works on these things,” Ryan said.
But he said that the results offer added urgency for Republicans to get tax reform done.
“The way I see it, honestly, is we’ve got to get our job done. That’s why I think tax reform is just so important, not just politically but just for the country,” Ryan said.
“I think what people want to know and see is that this Donald Trump presidency and this Republican Congress makes a positive difference,” he added.
Democrat Ralph Northam on Tuesday cruised to a 9 point victory over Republican Ed Gillespie, far outpacing recent polls that suggested he had only a narrow lead in a swing state that has been trending blue.
By comparison, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won Virginia by 5 points over Trump a year ago.
Kilmeade asked Ryan if Republicans are having second thoughts about embracing Trump, who much of the establishment GOP kept at a distance in 2016.
“Is it going to be a choice for Republicans, Bush or Trump?” Kilmeade asked, referring to former President George W. Bush’s policies, considered more moderate than Trump’s.
Ryan himself initially declined to endorse Trump after he won the GOP presidential primary and refused to campaign with him after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape a month before Election Day.
But on Wednesday, Ryan affirmed that Republicans will stand by Trump.
“We already made that choice. We’re with Trump. We already made that choice. That’s a choice we made at the beginning of the year. That’s a choice we made during the campaign,” Ryan replied. “We ran on a joint agenda with Donald Trump.”
Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, did not campaign with Trump this year. But Gillespie tried to replicate his culture war appeals with ads and mailers that attacked NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and defending Confederate statues.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicted Wednesday that Republicans who try to imitate Trump will meet a similar result as Gillespie.
“If they go into the next races and say, ‘Oh, he wasn’t enough like Trump,’ we’ll have even bigger victories,” Pelosi said at a press conference.
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