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Read Paul Ryan’s Speech Calling Donald Trump’s Victory the ‘Most Incredible Political Feat’

13 minute read

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday commended Donald Trump for his presidential election victory.

“Let me just say, this is the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime,” Ryan said, later adding: “Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard. He connected with—he connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head.”

Ryan and Trump had a fraught relationship at times during the presidential race. Ryan endorsed Trump but also distanced himself from some of Trump’s most controversial remarks.

Read Ryan’s full speech here:

RYAN: Good morning.

Last night and again this morning, I spoke with president-elect Donald Trump and I congratulated him on his great victory. We talked about the work ahead of us and the importance of bringing this country together.

Let me just say, this is the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime. This is something you’ve heard me say time and again. Seven out of 10 Americans, they do not like the direction our country is going. Many of our fellow citizens feel alienated and have lost faith in our core institutions. They don’t feel heard and they don’t feel represented by those in office.

But Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard. He connected with — he connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head. And now, Donald Trump will lead a unified Republican government. And we will work hand-in- hand on a positive agenda to tackle this country’s big challenges.

I want to congratulate my friend Mike Pence. Mike Pence is a good man, a principled conservative, and he will make a great vice president.

I want to congratulate Reince Priebus. You need to know how proud we are in Wisconsin of Reince Priebus. What he has done to rebuild our party is remarkable.

I want to congratulate Mitch McConnell and our Republican colleagues in the Senate.

I want to congratulate Ron Johnson, something that we’ve worked so hard here at home, on his victory. Ron, Scott Walker and I just spent four days on a bus in Wisconsin crisscrossing the state, urging all Republicans to come together, to unify and to win, and that’s exactly what happened. It was close quarters at times, and it was worth it to get Ron back the next six years.

Of course, I am immensely proud of the campaign that our House members and our candidates ran. I want to congratulate Greg Walden and the team at the NRCC and our entire House leadership team. What a phenomenal job. Look at it this way. Our House majority is bigger than expected. We won more seats than anyone expected, and much of that is thanks to Donald Trump. Donald Trump provided the kind of coat tails that got a lot of people over the finish line so the we could maintain our strong House and Senate majorities.

Now we have important work to do. Many months ago, Republicans in the House united around a bold, specific agenda for this country and offered a better way forward for America, and it will help us hit the ground running as we work with Donald Trump to do this. We will honor the timeless principles that our country was founded on; liberty, freedom, free enterprise, consent of the governed. And we will apply those principles to the problems of the day.

This is the kind of unified Republican government that we set out to deliver. I want to close with this. There is no doubt our democracy can be very messy and we do remain a sharply divided country. But now, as we do every four years, we have to work to heal the divisions of a long campaign. I think president-elect Donald Trump set the perfect tone last night for doing just this.

RYAN: And I know President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to bringing the country together. This needs to be a time of redemption, not a time of recrimination. We all need to rededicate ourselves to making America great and making it a more perfect union.

With that, let me take your questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, during the (inaudible) critical of Donald Trump (inaudible)? (inaudible) today, clearly, you are (inaudible). Some of your colleagues (inaudible) Donald Trump during the campaign. Is your relationship with the president-elect and your conservatives in the House in tact?

RYAN: Yes, it is. I think our relationship’s fine. I’ve spoken with Donald twice in the last 18 hours. We spoke last night. We spoke again this morning. I spoke with my good friend Mike Pence twice as well.

I think we are going to hit the ground running. We are already talking about getting our transitions working together. We’re very excited. Look, Kelly, when I say seven out of 10 Americans don’t like the direction the country’s going, they just voted.

I think what Donald Trump just pulled off is an enormous political feat. It’s an enormous feat in that he heard those voices that were out there that other people weren’t hearing. And he just earned a mandate. And we now just have a unified Republican government.

If you listened to us in the closing days of this campaign, whether it was crisscrossing America or crisscrossing Wisconsin, we were making an appeal to our fellow citizens and to all Republicans to come home to unify. And we did just that. And that’s why I’m excited about where we are.


QUESTION: During any (ph) of your conversations with the president-elect, did he ensure you (ph) that he supports your speakership?

RYAN: We had great conversations about how we work together on the transition to make this work. We’re trying to get our schedules lined up to meet to flesh out how we build our transition, how we go forward. And so yes, I’m very excited about our ability to work together. QUESTION: (inaudible) president-elect (inaudible)?

RYAN: Yes.

QUESTION: What would you say to people who are concerned?

RYAN: I’ll say to Wisconsinites what I said to Wisconsinites before the election. Look at these issues. Look at the potential for our country. Look at the direction we’ve been going. Look at the direction we need to go. And look at what a unified Republican government can get you.

Look, I’m really proud of the fact that for the first time since 1984, Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes went to Republicans. This is an enormous feat. Frankly, you saw the Marquette poll. I mean, Charles, you saw it. We didn’t think it could happen. Donald Trump turn this on its head. Donald Trump delivered the 10 electoral votes.

And by the way, he helped elect a strong majority in the Senate and a strong majority in the House.


QUESTION: (inaudible) used the word “mandate.” If you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, how quickly? How soon? What does it look like? And what do you say to those folks that just don’t feel like he is going to be their president?

RYAN: I — I think after a tough campaign, where people believe that they were — they were pitching so hard for one side or the other, the time is to heal and to unify. This health care law, Charles, is not a popular law. This health care law is collapsing under its own weight.

And so to your specific question about repealing and replacing Obamacare, this Congress, this House majority, this Senate majority has already demonstrated and proven we’re able to pass that legislation and put it on the president’s desk. The problem is President Obama vetoed it. Now, we have President Trump coming who is asking us to do this.

So with unified Republican government, we can fix this. We can fix these problems.

Look, it’s not just the health care law that we can replace, because we now have shown the willingness and the ability to do it. There are so many more things that I am excited about. Think about the laid-off coal workers now who see relief coming. Think about the farmers here in Wisconsin who are being harassed by the EPA in the waters of the USA. Think about the ranchers in the west who are getting harassed by the Interior Department or the laid-off timber workers.

There is relief coming. This is good for our country. This means that we can lift the oppressive weight of the regulatory state. We can restore the Constitution. Think about the conservative Constitution respecting judges that will be nominated. This is — this is very exciting.


QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you see any (inaudible) Republican Party at this point in time, perhaps sort of away from the ideas aspect you have long talked about? You know (inaudible) conservative principles (inaudible) populist Republican Party. And as part of that, also I wonder a lot of your Republican House and Senate (inaudible) a check (inaudible) Republican president. And I wonder as speaker, what is the balance you need to strike (inaudible) president- elect (inaudible)?

RYAN: It’s a good question.

QUESTION: (inaudible) ensure that (inaudible) government does not repeat (inaudible)?

RYAN: I think the mistakes of the Republican government is that we didn’t do the right thing at the right time. I think the mistakes that we made in the past is we didn’t seize the opportunity when it presented itself. The opportunity is now here. And the opportunity is to go big, to go bold, and to get things done for the people of this country.

RYAN: And there are various different kinds of conservatives and different kinds of Republicans. We all come from different corners of our party. The key here is not only to unify and merge these approaches, as you just described, but to also invite everyone else in the country to get us focused on our solutions.

What I see here is great potential. What I see here is with a unified government and not having more of this protracted, divided government that has been plaguing us for so many years. What I see now here with a unified government is the opportunity to get back to work for the American people. Donald Trump pulled off an amazing political feat. He deserves tremendous credit for that. It helped us keep our majorities, but it also showed the country that people don’t like the direction we were going. We need to change direction.

And what I’m excited about is we in Congress, along with our nominee who is now the president-elect, offered a very specific and clear and coherent agenda on which direction we should take the country and that is now the direction we’re going to go. And that’s why I’m excited about working with our president-elect, working with our vice president-elect, on the transition to make sure that we hit the ground running.

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, you say you want to unify the country, bring people together. I’m hearing a pervasive sense of fear from many people this morning of they don’t know what to expect. They’re worried about civil liberties being violated, things Mr. Trump has suggested during the campaign. What do you say to that?

RYAN: Well, Frank, I don’t think people should be worried about civil liberties being violated because take a look at the judges that he’s already said he would choose from to put on the Supreme Court. These are judges that actually respect the Bill of Rights, that respect the Constitution.

I think one of the things that — one of the biggest victories of this race is the Constitution itself. And so, for those people who are concerned or for those people who clearly didn’t want the Republicans to win, we have a very clear agenda. We believe in the principles that built this country, we believe in the Constitution. We have an agenda to get people back to work. We want to bring accountability to the federal government. We want the federal government to respect the states.

This is exciting, and so for those people who are concerned, this is a time to unify, this is a time to heal. And I think, again, our president-elect, he set the right tone last night with his speech, which was to be magnanimous, to be presidential and to bring people together.

QUESTION: You keep you’re going to work with him on the transition. Just to be clear (inaudible) do you intend to run for speaker?

RYAN: Yes.

QUESTION: And Donald Trump’s people running his campaign tried to take you out (ph) in the primary. So it’s not — this is not…

RYAN: I don’t worry about things like that, Jake. I don’t worry about inter-party issues. I don’t worry about — I feel very good where we are. Donald and I have had fantastic conversations just in the last — in the last, you know, what, 18 hours. Mike Pence and I had a great conversation about the transition meeting.

How do we make sure that when his hand comes off the bible, when he’s sworn in as president, we are hitting the ground running? And we are — we are very excited about working with him to make sure that that’s the case.

QUESTION: Last question. Speaking of hitting the ground running, you’ve got (inaudible) coming up. I’m wondering if you are changing your approach on what you intend to do with the short-term (ph) spending bill? And are you going to reopen a budget bill (inaudible) tax reform or Obamacare?

RYAN: I won’t get into the reconciliation issues. I think that’s something to be predetermined. I want to sit down with our president-elect and his team to talk about what they want to achieve in the lame duck, what work they want to see taken care of now, what work they would like to take up when they come in office. This is something that we’re going to have to plan with our president-elect on this transition.

But I got to tell you, having been involved in these lame ducks before, it is very exciting to be going into a lame duck where we have a Republican president following right after it. So, I’m excited about that and we’re going to coordinate with our president-elect on just what they’re hoping we can achieve in the lame duck.

Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com