Paul Ryan: GOP primary should not be 'personality contest'

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin said Thursday that the GOP needs an election that carries a mandate. In Ryan's view, Mitt Romney has offered a positive agenda for fixing the nation.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin speaks at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin said that given the nation’s tough fiscal situation presidential candidate Mitt Romney should offer voters a “positive agenda” for how to fix the nation’s problems – and that Mr. Romney has done just that.

Speaking at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters Thursday, Representative Ryan said, “We just can’t have an ordinary election where it is a personality contest and then you win by default and don’t have a mandate. We need to have an election with a mandate so we can actually fix these problems.”

Ryan, one of most influential Republicans in the US House of Representatives, charged that in 2008 President Obama ran, “what I would say was a vague platitude campaign – hope and change. And then he gave us all stuff he did with the Pelosi Congress.”

In Ryan’s view, Romney “is stepping into the groove” of offering voters a concrete, positive agenda for fixing the nation. Ryan cited Romney’s speech on Feb. 10 to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where the former Massachusetts governor talked about his conservative bona fides saying, "I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism," adding that he  "fought against long odds in a deep blue state." 

Ryan also cited a Romney speech about entitlements delivered Dec. 20 in New Hampshire where offered a contrast between an “entitlement society” versus his preferred “opportunity society.”

Speeches outlining detailed plans are important, Ryan said, because, “you’ve got to prepare the country” for the specifics of what you intend to do if elected. If you withhold information because you don't want to take the risk of speaking boldly, “you win the wrong kind of victory,” he said.

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