With re­turn to Iowa, Ryan finds mo­men­tum for pres­i­den­tial bid

Gov­er­nor hails ef­forts to tame na­tional bud­get

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

AL­TOONA, IOWA | De­spite be­ing on the los­ing 2012 pres­i­den­tial ticket, Rep. Paul Ryan’s White House prospects have not dimmed in Iowa, where Repub­li­can in­sid­ers say he will get a strong look in the 2016 cau­cuses if he takes a crack at the na­tion’s top elected of­fice.

At the same time, some think Mr. Ryan, who has main­tained a low pro­file since the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, is next in line to be­come speaker of the U.S. House.

He will have to sort that out in the run-up to the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion race, which will kick off in a lit­tle more than two years.

That served as the back­drop to Mr. Ryan’s keynote ad­dress Satur­day at Gov. Terry E. Branstad’s tra­di­tional birth­day bash at the Palace The­ater in the Ad­ven­ture­land Amuse­ment Park, the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can’s first visit to the Hawk­eye State since Mitt Rom­ney loss to Pres­i­dent Obama in 2012.

Mr. Ryan opened his re­marks by thank­ing the crowd for their sup­port in the elec­tion and teased the au­di­ence about his po­lit­i­cal fu­ture when he said the re­turn trip gave him and his wife, Janna, a chance to see some old friends.

“Maybe we should could back

spark­ing ap­plause from the au­di­ence.

Be­fore the party, Mr. Branstad told The Wash­ing­ton Times that Mr. Ryan will get a fair shake in Iowa if he seeks the party’s nod, say­ing there is a reser­voir of af­fec­tion for the 43-year-old chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee. He said vot­ers ap­pre­ci­ate the way Mr. Ryan has led the charge on Capi­tol Hill to get the na­tion’s fi­nan­cial house in or­der and tackle the more than $17 tril­lion na­tional debt.

“He is one of the very few peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton who is re­ally try­ing to do some­thing sig­nif­i­cant to get the coun­try back on track fi­nan­cially,” Mr. Branstad said. “You can­not spend a tril­lion dol­lars more than you are tak­ing in year af­ter year with­out de­stroy­ing this coun­try, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., just tends to play pol­i­tics and kick the can down the road. He at least has put to­gether a thought­ful plan to do some­thing about it. I re­spect that.”

Mr. Ryan re­turned Mr. Branstad’s com­pli­ment Satur­day by telling the nearly 800 peo­ple who turned out for Mr. Branstad’s 67th birth­day party that the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor did not need to run for of­fice again in 2010 but has since pur­sued poli­cies that have strength­ened the state’s econ­omy and pushed its un­em­ploy­ment rate well be­low the na­tional av­er­age

He also ap­plauded Mr. Branstad for build­ing up the state’s sur­plus and steer­ing the sin­gle big­gest tax cut in state his­tory through the Leg­is­la­ture this year.

“That is an ex­am­ple that is won­der­ful, that the peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton can learn from,” Mr. Ryan said. “Thank you, Terry Branstad. Thank you for putting the uni­form back on again and get­ting back into the game and scor­ing some touch­downs.”

Mr. Ryan, mean­while, has re­fused to say whether he plans to seek the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in 2016.

He told the Des Moines Reg­is­ter this week that he will fin­ish out his leg­isla­tive term and then take “a hard look at it.”

That made it hard for him to pass up a chance to ap­pear in Iowa, where a year ago he in­jected en­ergy into Mr. Rom­ney’s pres­i­den­tial bid and helped ease con­cerns about the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor’s con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials.

In his speech, Mr. Ryan sug­gested that be­cause of Oba­macare, Repub­li­cans could be in bet­ter shape in 2014 and 2016 than the GOP ticket was head­ing into the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“We had a com­plaint against big gov­ern­ment in the­ory,” he said, al­lud­ing to the fact that the health care law did not take hold un­til af­ter the elec­tion. “Here is the dif­fer­ence now. We have big gov­ern­ment in prac­tice and what we are re­al­iz­ing is that the re­sult is noth­ing close to the rhetoric that was used to sell it.”

Iowa ac­tivists are used to hav­ing pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates para­chute into the state.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas vis­ited last month — his third stop in Iowa this year — and Sens. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky and Marco Ru­bio of Florida also have dropped by since the elec­tion.

Some gover­nors pondering White House runs also have made the trip, in­clud­ing Scott Walker of Wis­con­sin, Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jin­dal of Louisiana.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s land­slide re-elec­tion vic­tory this month also has cre­ated buzz, though he has not made the trip since the 2012 elec­tion cy­cle.

Since re­turn­ing to Capi­tol Hill, Mr. Ryan has faced crit­i­cism from some con­ser­va­tives for voic­ing sup­port for im­mi­gra­tion re­form and for back­ing the fis­cal cliff deal that raised taxes on the top 2 per­cent of the na­tion’s earn­ers while ex­tend­ing the Bush-era tax cuts for most ev­ery­one else.

Mr. Ryan also broke with House Repub­li­can lead­ers to op­pose the emer­gency aid pack­age for ar­eas af­fected by Su­per­storm Sandy and the deal that law­mak­ers struck last month to end the 16-day gov­ern­ment shut­down and in­crease the na­tion’s bor­row­ing limit.

“I think they prob­a­bly look at him more pos­i­tive than not,” said Steve Sch­ef­fler, a Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber from Iowa. “He is ac­cept­able more than some Repub­li­cans, but he has done some things re­cently that would cause some con­ser­va­tives to have some pause.”

Robert L. Van­der Plaats, the head of the Chris­tian con­ser­va­tive group The Fam­ily Leader, said Mr. Ryan will have the op­por­tu­nity to step out from Mr. Rom­ney’s shadow.

“I think what peo­ple are go­ing to do with Paul Ryan is they will give him a fair hear­ing, and they are go­ing to find out who is the real Paul Ryan,” Mr. Vader Plaats said.

Brian Kennedy, an ad­viser to the Rom­ney cam­paign, said Iowa vot­ers are look­ing for some­one who can “reach not only the base, but also be­yond that base and put to­gether a win­ning coali­tion.”

“I just think there is com­plete un­cer­tainty on who might be able to do that,” Mr. Kennedy said. “There are a lot of po­ten­tial can­di­dates, and Paul Ryan could cer­tainly be one of them.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, talks with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad af­ter giv­ing him with a cheese­head hat dur­ing Mr. Branstad’s birth­day bash Satur­day in Al­toona. The speech marked Mr. Ryan’s first visit to the Hawk­eye State since the 2012 elec­tion.

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