TIME republicans

Paul Ryan Says GOP Must Become ‘Proposition Party’

"We cannot define ourselves by what we are against"

Rep. Paul Ryan said Friday that Republicans must do more than criticize President Barack Obama to succeed politically, saying they must become the “proposition party” to become an alternative to Democrats.

Speaking to top GOP officials at the summer meeting of the Republican National Committee, the 2012 vice presidential nominee said the party needs to put forward ideas for what it stands for. “We cannot define ourselves by what we are against,” said Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee. Last month Ryan released a new anti-poverty plan, calling for reforms to the nation’s welfare, education, and criminal justice systems.

“By being the proposition and the alternative party we have to show everyone in America how we can reconnect and reclaim the idea that the condition of your birth doesn’t determine the outcome of your life,” Ryan said.

Ryan said the nation is poised to “take-off” and that “the challenge is we’re going to have to win elections to do that,” adding that the GOP needs to continue outreach to non-traditional Republican voters.

“We’re going to have to have another 1980-type election [to set the country on track],” Ryan said.

Ryan said that he and Mitt Romney “were shadowboxing against big government in theory” in 2012, but now that the health care reform and financial reform laws are in effect, the GOP has an easier case to make.

Ryan said chaos around the world, including the situation in Iraq, “is in many ways a direct result of our standing the world because we have the wrong leadership.” Asked whether he supports the military action authorized by Obama in Iraq on Thursday, Ryan told a reporter “Yeah, nah, call my office. I don’t want to give you a flippant, walking-through-the-halls thing. It’s something I’d rather think through. But I think that we should do whatever is necessary to protect our national security interests.”

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