Paul Ryan to knock Trump in speech at Reagan Library

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is expected to knock former President Trump in a speech Thursday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California by urging members of his party to avoid rallying behind “one personality” or “second-rate imitations.”

In excerpts of the speech first obtained by Punchbowl News and later shared with The Hill, the former Republican vice presidential nominee commends what he calls “historic reforms” passed in early 2020, including “increased revenue from a broader tax base, capital and jobs coming back to America,” which he argues were fueled by “the populism of President Trump in action, tethered to conservative principles.”

However, the former congressman argues that voters now “looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle.” 

“Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads,” he will say. “And here’s one reality we have to face. If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or on second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere.” 

“We win majorities by directing our loyalty and respect to voters, and by staying faithful to the conservative principles that unite us,” Ryan adds in the prepared remarks. “This was true even when the person leading our movement was as impressive, polished, and agreeable as they come.”

Ryan then goes on to say that Republicans must unite against the policies of President Biden, arguing that in 2020 “the country wanted a nice guy who would move to the center and depolarize our politics.”

“Instead, we got a nice guy pursuing an agenda more leftist than any president in my lifetime,” he is expected to say. 

“These policies might have the full approval of his progressive supporters, but they break faith with the middle-of-the-road folks who made the difference for him on Election Day,” Ryan will argue. 

“For conservatives, this painful existence as the opposition can actually be an opportunity,” he adds. “Out of these years can come a healthy, growing, and united conservative movement, a movement that speaks again to the heart of a great nation.”

Ryan will then urge conservatives “not to get caught up in every little cultural battle,” arguing that they “draw attention away from the far more important case we must make to the American people.”

“Culture matters, yes, but our party must be defined by more than a tussle over the latest grievance or perceived slight,” he says in the prepared remarks. “We must not let them take priority over solutions ­— grounded in principle — to improve people’s lives.”

The remarks planned for Thursday evening will launch the Reagan Library’s “Time for Choosing” speaking series, which, according to the Reagan Foundation’s website, has a goal of featuring “leading voices in the conservative movement to address critical questions facing the future of the Republican Party.”

Ryan’s speech comes as Trump looks to hold his influence on the GOP through endorsements of congressional candidates and as the former president eyes a potential 2024 bid for the White House. 

Ryan has remained largely out of the public eye since leaving office in 2019, but in January he called GOP efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win “anti-democratic and anti-conservative.”

Updated: 10:40 a.m.

Tags 2022 2024 election California Donald Trump Joe Biden Paul Ryan Reagan Library
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