MADISON, Wis. (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan, under siege from fellow Republicans for his unwillingness to help Donald Trump, accused Democrat Hillary Clinton and liberals on Friday of seeking to impose “a gloom and a grayness” on America and pursuing a government-heavy agenda for elites.
“In the America they want, the driving force is the state,” Ryan said in remarks to college Republicans in his home state. “It is a place where government is taken away from the people, and we are ruled by our betters, by a cold and unfeeling bureaucracy that replaces original thinking.”
Ryan’s comments were his first significant public statements since he privately told GOP colleagues last Monday that he’d no longer defend or campaign for his party’s presidential nominee. That came after last Friday’s release of a 2005 video showing Trump boasting about forcing sexual contact with women.
Ryan rescinded an invitation for Trump to appear at a Wisconsin political event last weekend, though he’s not dropped support for Trump. Trump has responded with tweets suggesting a sinister plot and calling Ryan ineffective, highlighting an extraordinary schism between the senior most elected GOP official and the party’s White House candidate.
While Ryan never mentioned Trump’s name in his comments Friday — a common tactic for many congressional Republicans this campaign season — he tore into Clinton, who polls show has surged ahead in the race for the White House.
“When Hillary Clinton says we are ‘stronger together,’ what she means is we are stronger if we are all subject to the state,” Ryan said. “What she means is we are stronger if we give up our ties of responsibility to one another and hand all of that over to government.”
Ryan referred repeatedly to “liberal progressivism” as a failed philosophy that “demands conformity and sameness” and has produced fewer jobs, unabated poverty, excessive regulations and an oversized government.
“They want an America that is ordinary. There’s kind of a gloom and a grayness to things,” he said.
He said that liberals don’t only want “a continuation of the last eight years. They do not just seek to further the liberal progressive experiment. They intend to make it into a reality — an arrogant, condescending and paternalistic reality.”
Ryan told his fellow House Republicans on Monday that he will spend the remaining weeks until the Nov. 8 elections campaigning to help them keep control of the chamber. In his remarks Friday, he warned that Democrats want to increase bureaucratic control of peoples’ lives and confirm liberal judges and promised, “A Republican Congress will not stand for this.”
The GOP seems likely to retain its House majority, but Democrats’ hopes for prevailing have grown in recent days amid a string of bad days for Trump. Ryan has not commented since reports this week in which several women have accused Trump of groping them over the past several decades — claims Trump has said are false.
In Ryan’s remarks, he pressed for the GOP agenda that he rolled out last summer that focuses on such issues as cutting regulations, overhauling the tax code and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law.
On Friday, Ryan said he raised around $15 million in July through September this year in campaign funds for House Republicans.
His Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, said she raised about $35 million for her party’s House candidates during those same three months.
AP reporters Donna Cassata and Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.