Biden – who launched his White House bid on Thursday – enters the race as the front-runner in the polls, thanks in part to his strong name recognition after nearly four decades in the Senate followed by eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president.
Asked about Biden’s entry into the race, Ryan appeared to take a veiled swipe at the former vice president, arguing “I don’t think people are looking for a superstar. I don’t think they’re looking for a savior. I don’t think they’re looking for a miracle. I think they’re looking for someone who can roll their sleeves up and grind this thing out.”
Ryan – a longshot for the White House - made his comments in an interview with Fox News and two New Hampshire media outlets as he campaigned in the first-in-the-nation primary state hours after Biden declared his candidacy.
Biden’s campaign could spell trouble for Ryan, who touts his heartland heritage and his ability to connect with the white working-class voters in the Rust Belt who helped Republican Donald Trump in 2016 win crucial states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in carrying the White House.
“He’s from Scranton (Pennsylvania). I’m from just outside of Youngstown (Ohio). Very similar communities. Similar approaches to how we talk about these issues and recognize the anxiety that people are going through,” Ryan admitted.
“I think the ultimate question is what’s the plan. How do you win the future,” he emphasized. “People want solutions. They want answers. They want a plan. It’s not hope and change and it’s not make America great a again. It’s like ‘tell me what you’re going to do’ and I think that’s how the election’s going to turn.”
Hope and change was the slogan of the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign.
Biden holds his first campaign event on Monday at an event at a union hall in Pittsburgh, not too far from Ryan’s district just over the state line in northeast Ohio.
“Maybe I’ll go over and see him,” Ryan joked.
Biden, a longtime friend of the labor movement, is expected to land first major union endorsement early next with, with the likely backing of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Ryan going after the same voters, highlighting “I have a great union record. I’m going to try and go after that vote.”
Asked how Biden’s campaign will directly impact him, Ryan answered “we’re going to find out.”