Rep. Ryan: GOP 'Housecleaning' Needed

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," November 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRIT HUME, HOST: Joining us now is Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin who has been regarded by many as one of the up-and-coming leaders in the House of Representatives on the Republican side.

We wanted to talk to him because we wanted to get his reflections on the meaning of the selection and where the Republican Party goes from here.

Congressman, welcome.

Video: Watch Brit Hume's interview

Your thoughts on tonight, what it means, and where does the Republican party go from here?

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WISC.: Well, it's a big night for Democrats and this means the Republican Party has to go back to its roots. We got to go back to the reform party, back to being a party of big ideas.

And this is not what we have been lately, so we need a housecleaning in our party, and we need a party that's going to go and tackle problems facing the American people. Take our timeless principles and apply them to today's problems and be the reform party we used to be.

I see this as an election that's big for Democrats, but let's make this the election that's a turnaround for the Republican Party. That is what we have to get out of this evening.

HUME: You say you think there's time for a housecleaning, and obviously, the Democrats have taken care of some of that, they've cleaned out some Republican members, obviously. But does this mean that there should be new leadership, in your view, in the House of Representatives in terms of your floor leader, your whip and so on down the line?

RYAN: I don't want to get into personality issues about leadership. What I want to do is get into ideas. We can't be afraid of our principles anymore. We can't be afraid of taking political risks anymore. We can be afraid of taking on big ideas and going straight to the American people with them.

We've been -- we've had too much political fear in our party, too many earmarks, no reform. That has to end. We've seen what that got us. Now it's time for us to clean up our acts, our party, and go forward.

I won't get into the personalities of who should lead this. Only that we have to go back to being that reform party that we used to be.

HUME: All right. Now, I hear you on the subject of earmarks and the kind of spending that Republicans engaged in that they used to blame Democrats for.

RYAN: Right.

HUME: Beyond that, are there -- is there a new idea out there -- Ronald Reagan came along, for example, the supply-side tax cuts.

RYAN: Yes.

HUME: That was really a brand new idea. We hadn't heard a lot about that before.

RYAN: Sure.

HUME: What new ideas might there be?

RYAN: Go to my Web site, I put out a very comprehensive plan, rewriting the health care system, Medicare, Social Security, our entire tax system, rewriting the size of our government, limiting our government, making sure that our government doesn't double in size by the time my three kids are my age.

That's the trajectory we are on. That's the pathway we are having. We have to have an alternative vision to the current pathway, this notion of Europeanizing America. We have to have a different (INAUDIBLE) road that the Republican Party are going to give the American people.

And that speaks to all parts of our government, our entitlement explosion, our debt, our tax code itself. We're not for just cutting taxes. We're reforming the whole tax system to make sure that America is more prosperous in the 21st century than we were in the 20th century.

These are kinds of big ideas. Earmarks was a symptom. The problem is we went big government and we've got to get out of that. And we've got to be the entrepreneurial, Reagan party we were, take those principles, apply them for today's problems, and go straight to the American people with them, and not be afraid to do so, and that has been our problem because we haven't done that.

HUME: All right. Congressman, very interesting. Thanks a lot for taking the time with us. Glad to talk to you, sir.

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