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Ryan urges Republicans to "unify"

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | APRIL 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., returned to Iowa this past weekend espousing a message of a unified Republican Party.

“The left loves to say that we’re in this big civil war, that we’re tearing the party apart,” he said. “I don’t see it that way; great candidates all of these people [Republican primary candidates] talked about the same ideals, talked about the same principles and policies.”

Ryan decried the belief in a “civil war” and urged the estimated 370 attendees at the annual GOP Lincoln Dinner in Cedar Rapids to come together after the primary.

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“Let’s try to give up the infighting, let’s give up the tunnel vision, let’s give up the acrimony,” he said. “Pick a candidate you really want and fight hard for them, and after your primary … unify, unify.”

A spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party said leaders such as Ryan are actually pushing people away from the Republican Party with his budget — increasing the amount of infighting, not limiting it.

“… Republicans in Iowa and across the country may have set out to become more ‘inclusive and welcoming’ in the past year, with the hope to become more unified, but in reality, it's party leaders like Paul Ryan who create so much infighting with the Republican Party,” said Christina Freundlich, the communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party.

Ryan’s words follow those of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and fellow possible 2016 candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., although Ryan was clear after the event he would not discuss presidential possibilities.

Priebus called for an “autopsy” last year after Republicans failed to retake the White House in 2012, in part because of failures to appeal to a broad array of voters.

The election postmortem resulted in numerous suggestions for the party to act on, which included hiring staff members to reach out to specific demographics, limiting primary debates, and doing a better job of recruiting candidates.

State Central Committee member Bob Anderson, who attended the fundraiser, said it is difficult to not be viewed as negative when a party is not setting the agenda, but he said Republicans are pushing for positive changes while rebuking President Barack Obama.

“Being opposed to President Obama’s greater control of our lives is not a negative,” he said. “The positives need to be expressed through our policies as well.”

The former Republican vice-presidential nominee’s visit marks his second time in Iowa since the 2012 election. Reflecting on those times, Ryan bemoaned the difficulties he and Mitt Romney faced in the election, which he called a “bitter loss.”

“One of the challenges Mitt and I had was that in 2012, we had to shadowbox against big government in theory,” he said. “We kept trying to say this is what Obamacare is going to do … this is what Dodd-Frank is going to become, this is what all this debt leads to, but the challenge we had is it was sort of our word against theirs.”

Now that these programs are in practice, Ryan said people are seeing “it has nothing to do with the promises they used to sell it.”

Ryan emphasized the party’s message is something which resonates throughout the country. But the GOP needs to do a better job explaining this vision.

“Go to the barrios of western San Antonio, go to the inner city in Chicago, go to rural Oklahoma, come to rural Wisconsin, and the broken factory towns we have in eastern Wisconsin,” he said. “Everybody says the same thing, it’s not working … we have to show we have the better ideas for these afflictions.”


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