Ryan finds mo­men­tum for pres­i­den­tial bid

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - 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 and do this more of­ten,” Mr. Ryan said, 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.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rep. Paul Ryan heads to the podium in Al­toona, Iowa, to help cel­e­brate Gov. Terry E. Branstad’s birth­day and pos­si­bly to test the waters in the state that holds the na­tion’s first pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nat­ing con­test.

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