Published December 23, 2015
Making one last stop in his hometown before flying to Tampa for the official nomination to the Republican ticket, vice presidential pick Paul Ryan slammed the current White House for putting the nation down a road of "debt, doubt and decline."
In an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, Ryan teed up his speech at the Republican National Convention by stressing that the weather-delayed event will nevertheless provide a critical opportunity to draw a "contrast" with President Obama's policies.
"The contrast between the President Obama plan, which has put us (down the road of) debt, doubt and decline, versus Mitt Romney's vision and solutions for a better future, to get us back to prosperity, couldn't be clearer," Ryan said. "And what we want to do is highlight those contrasts."
As Republican officials announced that the abbreviated convention would be going forward as planned, after a one-day delay, Ryan said safety remains the priority and "we'll have to call ... how we see it."
He went on to defend his tax policies, preparing for what will likely be an onslaught of Democratic attacks when the rival party holds its convention next week.
Ryan rejected the conclusion of a Tax Policy Center study, which calculated that Mitt Romney's proposals to reform the tax code would require a tax hike on lower- and middle-income households. Obama has continually cited the study on the campaign trail.
"It's not an accurate study, it's actually not a study of the actual Romney plan," Ryan said. The Tax Policy Center stated in its analysis that they do not score Romney's plan "directly" since "certain components of his plan are not specified in sufficient detail."
Pressed to specify which loopholes he and Romney are seeking to close, the vice presidential candidate declined to elaborate.
"We want to get rid of the corporate welfare, the crony capitalism stuff in the tax code," Ryan said. "But we want Congress to participate in a transparent debate, in front of the public eye, so we can have a really good debate about how best to broaden the tax base and lower tax rates."
Ryan also made an appeal to supporters of Ron Paul, whom the vice presidential candidate called a "friend of mine."
"We see eye to eye on a lot of issues and believe in some ... limited government," Ryan told Fox News. "We believe in academic freedom. We believe in the founding principles. We believe that this is a watershed moment for America, whether or not we're going to reclaim the American idea or we're going to become, you know, a cradle-to-the-grave welfare state, which is where I think the president is taking us."
Ryan addressed the tension with Paul supporters after the Texas congressman held a counter-convention rally in Tampa Sunday attended by thousands. At the rally, Paul accused the GOP establishment of "failing" the country.
Ryan, though, noted that he and Paul have served together for years in the House and suggested he wasn't anticipating any problems.
"So I think, in the final analysis, Ron is clearly going to -- he and his supporters should be very comfortable with us," Ryan said. "At the end of the day, it's a choice between the president's failed leadership, the big government that he's offering, the borrowing that he's offering, the spending and the regulating that he's offering, which will give us a stagnant economy, a lost generation, not just a lost decade, and the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan plan of reclaiming our founding principles, getting back to economic freedom and liberty and reviving this economy."
Monday's hometown rally for Ryan was an emotional sendoff for the Janesville native, with 2,000 people gathering in his high school gym to celebrate the biggest political event the city has ever experienced.
"We're fifth-generation Janesville, Wisconsin, natives," a visibly moved Ryan said to the crowd, which featured the atmosphere of a pep rally profoundly colored by hometown pride. "And it's not a unique story. It's the American story. And the reason our family came here and the reason everybody else's family came here is because of what this country stands for. America's not just a piece of geography. It's an idea."
Baier asked Ryan to reflect on the time he almost quit Congress, quoting an interview he gave Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard in which he said: "After we got thumped by Pelosi in '06, I was just sitting in my tree stand right after that election thinking about, you know, Why am I in Congress? What am I doing? Is it really serving a purpose?"
"That tree stand is about six miles in that direction," Ryan responded. "I can get into my tree stand within about 20 minutes of leaving my house."
"I decided back then I'm going to do what I think is right, I'm going to move this debate, so we can get this country fixed, so we don't have the kind of European result that we're clearly heading toward," he continued. "And what I'm really pleased to see is that we're finally having that adult conversation we need to have in this country if we want to fix this country's problems and get us back to prosperity and get people back to work."
Ryan told Fox News he thinks about his father, who died when he was 16, every day.
"It was one of those moments in a life where you basically have to make a decision whether you sink or swim. You know, when something like that happens to you, it's a real punch in the stomach and you have to decide whether you're going to get yourself up, brush yourself off and dive into life. That's the decision I made when I was 16. And it's made me a stronger person as a result of it. And I'd like to think he'd be proud of not just what we're doing here, but of my entire family and -- and what we're doing."