CLEVELAND — On the first day of the Republican National Convention, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Wisconsin’s delegation that America’s problems are fixable, but he didn’t evoke presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s name.
Ryan said President Barack Obama was responsible for limited economic growth, flat wages, excessive government regulations, high and complicated taxes, dependence on government anti-poverty programs and a foreign policy he described as phoning it in and leaving others to pick up the pieces.
“All of these problems in America are fixable problems,” Ryan said during a breakfast meeting with the state delegation. “It is our job, our duty and it is our opportunity to show people a better way.”
Ryan highlighted parts of his recently released “A Better Way” House agenda and mentioned his trip later Monday to Elyria, Ohio, where he was scheduled to visit with groups on the front lines of helping those with addictions and other problems recover.
“It’s not enough for us simply to complain, it is not enough to simply oppose,” Ryan said. “We’ve got being an opposition party down to a T. We need to be a proposition party.”
Ryan also touted Wisconsin’s economy, saying under Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature, the state implemented conservative solutions and “we have a better economy than everybody else has.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Brandon Weathersby pointed out that under Walker, the state has passed anti-union legislation, cut education funding and enacted tax cuts that have benefited the wealthy.
“The result isn’t a booming economy, but a 32nd-in-the-nation job creation record since the governor took office,” Weathersby said.
As he kicked off his remarks, Ryan asked if Walker was in the audience. It turned out he was at the Iowa delegation’s breakfast instead.
A Walker spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment about the governor’s absence. Mike Wagner, a UW-Madison journalism professor, said Walker’s visit with the Iowans, who host the first presidential nominating contest every four years, is a sign that he’s still interested in running for president again.
“He is doing the kinds of things one would do to try and earn support in early primary states if one wants to leave open the possibility of running for president in four years,” Wagner said.
Ryan didn’t mention the party’s brash billionaire likely nominee, who has cut deep divisions among Wisconsin Republicans.
Paul Nehlen, Ryan’s Republican opponent in the Aug. 9 primary and a Trump supporter, said the Speaker didn’t mention Trump “because Ryan represents everything that’s wrong with government: arrogance, condescension and spin.”
Ryan praised the work of grassroots members of the delegation, such as Ginny Marschman, whom he recalled stuffing envelopes with in 1997, before he ran for Congress.
“We don’t lick envelopes anymore, but you know what I mean,” he said to laughter.
The event was held at the Hilton hotel in downtown Cleveland where the state delegation and top members of the Republican National Committee are staying.
State Journal reporter Molly Beck contributed to this report.