Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who famously stalled President Donald Trump’s legislation using his position as the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017 and 2018, is expected to bash President Trump and his brand of America First populism during an upcoming speech at the Reagan Library.
According excerpts of the speech originally obtained by Punch Bowl and later verified by CNN, Ryan will interject himself into the ongoing civil war between the establishment, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the growing number of voters and legislators who support President Trump’s agenda.
“Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads. 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. Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle,” Ryan will say, according to an excerpt of his speech. “We win majorities by directing our loyalty and respect to voters, and by staying faithful to the conservative principles that unite us. This was true even when the person leading our movement was as impressive, polished, and agreeable as they come.”
Ryan will then claim that President Trump lost the 2020 election because “the country wanted a nice guy”, as opposed to President Trump, “who would move to the center and depolarize our politics.” He claims that the Republican Party must now provide a moderate “nice guy” who will please “middle-of-the-road folks” who he claims voted for Biden in 2020.
“For conservatives, this painful existence as the opposition can actually be an opportunity. 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 is expected to say. Ryan will then warn conservatives not to fight cultural battles. “And we conservatives have to be careful not to get caught up in every little cultural battle. Sometimes these skirmishes are just creations of outrage peddlers, detached from reality and not worth anybody’s time. 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. We must not let them take priority over solutions – grounded in principle – to improve people’s lives.”
Since leaving Congress, Ryan has become a board member at Fox News. He reportedly used his role at Fox News to reign in the former juggernaut and “do something” about the network’s support of President Trump. Ultimately, Fox News was the first of the large cable networks to begin calling contested battleground states for Biden in 2020, and hired a former NBC employee to determine the veracity of the results on November 3, 2020. Prior to becoming Speaker of the House, Ryan served as Sen. Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 election. Ryan is expected to deliver this speech tonight.