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Paul Ryan says Obama seeks 'political conquest' in second term

January 27, 2013|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that President Obama will be more focused on conquest than compromise in his second term.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that President Obama will be more focused… (Win McNamee / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON -- Reemerging as a party spokesman following a self-imposed post-election hiatus, Paul Ryan this weekend called upon Republicans to remain united against a president he sees as bent on "political conquest" in his second term.

Ryan, in a pair of public appearances, said the GOP must continue to challenge President Obama on areas of principle but also be prepared to work with him on other areas.

Notably, on NBC's "Meet The Press," he signaled he might be open to the president's push to expand background checks on gun purchases, but not other proposals the administration has put forward in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

"I think the question of whether or not a criminal is getting a gun is a question we need to look at," he said.

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But the House Budget Committee chairman continued to focus on what he called the ongoing fiscal crisis, brandishing a chart on the Sunday show interview to make the argument that only significant spending cuts, and not new revenues from tax increases or even tax reform would solve the deficit crisis.

He challenged Obama to present a detailed budget plan in public, criticizing his reliance on "trying to do backroom deals."

"Those always seem to fall apart. We want to have a debate in public so we can contrast these visions," Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said.

Republicans are "not preaching austerity," he told host David Gregory, but instead "growth and opportunity." "What we are saying is, if we get our fiscal ship fixed, you preempt austerity."

He said he didn't believe Obama thought the nation was even in a fiscal crisis.

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"My concern is the president may be more concerned with political ends, 2014, versus actually moving to the middle," the Wisconsin Republican said, referring to the midterm elections.

Explaining his relative silence since the Romney-Ryan ticket was defeated, Ryan said he wanted time to judge how Obama would proceed in a second term.

His evaluation: "All of the statements and all of the comments lead me to believe that he's thinking more of a political conquest than a political compromise."

The question on not just the budget but also issues like immigration reform, Ryan said, is whether Obama will "frustrate" bipartisan efforts or "facilitate" them.

On Saturday, Ryan similarly warned that Obama would focus his second term on trying to divide the Republicans. The party, he said, must choose its battles carefully, and stay united in them to succeed.

"I’m not saying we should be excessively cautious. When we see an opening — however small — we should take it," Ryan said in a speech at the National Review Institute gathering. "What I’m saying is, if we want to promote conservatism, we’ll need to use every tool at our disposal. Sometimes, we’ll have to reject the president’s proposals. And sometimes, we’ll have to make them better."

"We can’t get rattled. We won’t play the villain in his morality plays. We have to stay united. We have to show that — if given the chance — we can govern. We have better ideas," he said.

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

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