House Speaker Paul D. Ryan avoided mentioning Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during an an event with college Republicans in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday, but he did offer advice that seemed critical of Trump’s campaign tactics.
“Don’t get into a personality contest. Don’t talk about the latest Twitter storm from somebody,” Ryan said in response to a question about how to communicate the GOP message on a largely liberal campus.
Trump frequently castigates his critics on Twitter. In recent tweets, he has called Ryan “weak and ineffective” and panned his budgets plans and positions on immigration. The billionaire has also attacked Ryan on TV and at rallies after the speaker said he would no longer defend Trump and would not campaign with him following the release of a 2005 video in which Trump talked about groping women.
Ryan has not publicly commented on the controversy over Trump’s comments and interactions with women since he released a statement last Friday shortly after the video was made public, saying he was “sickened” by its contents.
Ryan’s remarks to the college group came after a speech the speaker delivered about the perils of “liberal progressivism.”
Ryan said that President Barack Obama has been pushing such an agenda for the past eight years and that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would continue embracing that mindset.
“It is the longest con,” Ryan said. “It preaches to us about fairness while snuffing out the striving that is at the heart of a free society.”
Liberal progressivism “demands conformity and sameness” and limits people, Ryan said.
“People are not needed, they are counted and sorted,” he said. “This is how you can so casually classify whole groups of people as a ‘basket of deplorables,’ as Hillary Clinton did.”
Ryan also briefly referenced the House Republicans’ “Better Way” agenda, which he presents as a counter to liberal progressivism.
Asked how he would continue to pursue that agenda if the Senate is controlled by Democrats or if Clinton is president, Ryan replied, “It’s not going to be as easy. … These would be extremely difficult in divided government.”
Ryan said the House GOP would keep fighting for what it believes in, but if Republicans lose control of the Senate, they’ll have trouble even bringing up their bills there, let alone getting them to the president’s desk.
Asked about his goals for the 115th Congress, Ryan said his top priority will be to get the economy working again and craft a budget that will “free up fiscal space for the military.”
The budget will be the “first thing out of the gate,” Ryan said, suggesting that it will include reconciliation instructions for a tax overhaul.
“I really want to get tax reform running as quickly as possible,” he said.