Fox News Channel "The O'Reilly Factor" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Paul Ryan
Date: Nov. 7, 2008
Location: Unknown

MS. INGRAHAM: In the "Unresolved Problems" segment tonight, a tough day for Republicans on Tuesday. Not only did the Democrats win the White House, they also picked up 19 House seats and six Senate seats with three races still outstanding. So how does the GOP start to rebuild, and who will be the new rising stars of the party? Joining us now from Milwaukee is Republican Congressman Paul Ryan. And Congressman Ryan's name is thrown around in a list of some new up-and- comers, young Turks. And we're glad he's with us.

Congressman Ryan, before we talk about people who might lead this new resurgence of conservatism, let's talk about the organizational failures of the Republican Party in the last few years. Because I was down in Alabama last night addressing about 1,500 party-faithful types at a big Alabama Policy Institute dinner. And I was hearing stories about people who wanted to help the McCain campaign in Ohio, lawyers, and they basically had nobody to go to. There was nobody on the ground in key battleground states to be poll watchers and stuff. So I'm thinking this is a top-down resurgence that's needed and a reorganization and out with the old, in with the new.

REP. RYAN: I completely agree with that. We had those kinds of problems in Wisconsin as well. We did it here at the grass roots. But look, our party went native in a lot of areas. The old Reagan coalition fell apart on one-third of it. we've done some good things on social conservatism. We banned partial-birth abortion. We got good judges. We defended marriage. We've been strong on national defense. Where we fell down is on fiscal conservatism and on economic liberty. We've washed that tenet out of our party.

What we have to do is go back to our basics and become that reform party again, become the party of ideas again. And we have some people that have been running our party that have gotten us off that message. We need to clear out, and it's time for the reformers to come in and take over the party and become that reform party again.

MS. INGRAHAM: Well, let's name some names. And I know it's a club up on Capitol Hill, but I think we need to name some names. I've talked about it on my radio show for days now. I know John Boehner is a great patriot and a great man. I'm not disparaging anyone and what they've tried to do for this country. But if these people were in corporate America and had the track record that they've had over the last four years, they would have been shown the door long ago. Who should we look to and who should go?

REP. RYAN: Look, I think you need to usher in reformers in all parts of our conference. Look, Ted Stevens, who just got reelected, came to Washington and gave us this notion that we should earmark our way to a permanent majority, we should build up a Republican machine where we bring home the bacon.

MS. INGRAHAM: But you've got the answer the question, Congressman. Who? Ted Stevens is an embarrassment. It's embarrassing that Ted Stevens is there.

REP. RYAN: But we have a culture of people like Ted Stevens, and we've got to get rid of that culture in our party. Look, let me give you one demonstration. There are so many pundits and pollsters that tell us don't take risks, just get reelected. The problem with that is nobody stands for anything bold anymore.

I ran my last campaign here for Congress on a plan that I wrote to rewrite our entitlement programs, reform the entire tax code, rewrite the health care system. It's fairly controversial, and I got 64 percent in a district that Obama carried handily.

MS. INGRAHAM: Fantastic.

REP. RYAN: Now, I believe that that's the secret to success, that we go forward with big ideas, bold solutions that actually use our principles -- liberty, freedom, self-determination, free enterprise -- and apply those principles to the problems of the day.

MS. INGRAHAM: Right.

REP. RYAN: That's what Ronald Reagan did. That's not what we've been doing. We've been earmarking ourselves, and we've got to get back to those roots, be a reform party again and promote those reformers within our conference to do just that.

MS. INGRAHAM: Right. Well, I couldn't agree with you more. But it has to be a party of excellence. The Republican Party and conservatism, period, has to be synonymous with competence and excellence. We've seen a lack of competence at every level of government, frankly, under Republican rule. We need competence. And who in the Republican leadership should step aside gracefully and allow new blood to come in?

REP. RYAN: Well, you've already seen two people do that. You've seen Adam Putnam and Roy Blunt step aside, inviting new leaders. I think Mike Pence is probably going to step in.

MS. INGRAHAM: What about Boehner? Should Boehner stay in?

REP. RYAN: Well, I've been recruited to run against him, but I'm not going to do that because I have a very young family. It's not something I'm interested in doing. I want to see if somebody steps in that race. My guess is that John's probably got this thing locked up. But Roy Blunt stepped aside, and Eric Cantor's stepping in.

So look, just take a second. We got two good young Turks coming in. We've got Mike Pence, we got Eric Cantor, good reform-minded conservatives coming positions of number two and three in leadership. So we're seeing some good reformers come in. The question is, in other parts of our conference, are we going to see those reformers come in? Are we going to reform the Appropriations Committee? Are we going to be for tax reform? Are we going to be for tackling the entitlement problem? Are we going to stop being afraid of our own principles and ideas? And are we going to do the American people a service and give them an actual alternative to the Europeanization of America that is coming before us? And I don't use that word lightly.

MS. INGRAHAM: Well, we need credibility on these principles, and that means we have to do what we say we're going to do and not do the opposite. Because I think the young people are looking at what the Republicans did and said, I don't want that, I'll take the other guy.

Hey, Congressman, we appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

REP. RYAN: You bet. Thanks for having me.