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Paul Ryan: GOP intra-party debate reflects "big tent"

CBS - Face the Nation

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March 09, 2014 | comments

On March 9th, Congressman Paul Ryan spoke with CBS’ Face the Nation about the ongoing provocation by Russia in the Ukraine and the vigorous debate occurring within the Republican Party about how to best offer solutions to the challenges we face. An unofficial transcript of the interview follows below.

Charlie Rose: You heard what the Vice President said, do you agree with him?

Paul Ryan: I do, I do. I think we should definitely revisit missile defense. I think if President Obama himself revisited missile defense that would be a very strong signal. I think you can charitably describe the reset policy as naive, wishful thinking and there are a lot of things I think we could do to turn course and make a difference and I think the Vice President laid out some good options. We should also bolster NATO’s eastern defenses as well.

Charlie Rose: Do you believe sanctions will work? Do you think that this Russian president is so intent in terms of trying to restore Russian influence that sanctions will not be impressive to him?

Paul Ryan: Well, my crystal ball is no clearer than yours is Charlie but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give this every ounce of effort. I don’t know if that’s going to work. I think Putin is as you describe, but I do think that there are vulnerabilities within Russia that he has politically that can be exploited. I think we should consider targeting some of the oligarchs around him that are his enablers and he is their enablers.

Charlie Rose: How would we target them?

Paul Ryan: I think you target their ability to travel, you target their international reserves, you target their holdings overseas that are illicitly gained through this kleptocracy of the Russian economy. One more point I would say, we are a nation of vast energy reserves and potential but with a government that is seen as hostile toward developing those energy reserves, let alone exporting those energy reserves. If our government changed its tune on that, if we told Europe we are going to green-light these languishing permit applications for exporting LNG, natural gas, to Europe that could do a lot to send the signals that we are intent on loosening Russia’s grip on its energy to Europe and that we are going to be a reliable ally to loosen their grip. They get their money from petrol about half their budget comes from energy. If we could compromise that by developing American energy – creating jobs here, lowering prices – I think that would be a huge step in the right direction. We’re going to move on that in the House and I think the President would have a great opportunity to change tune. The reset has failed, missile defense, smart sanctions, energy.

Charlie Rose: Let me move to CPAC and you were one of the speakers. You said there needs to be a vigorous debate and its taking place. What ever happened to bipartisanship in foreign policy?

Paul Ryan: Well, we used to have it when we had Scoop Jackson Democrats, when he had Harry Truman Democrats, when we had President Kennedy Democrats. We had bipartisan foreign policy. This is not that kind of Administration. This is a far more progressive, left Administration that I think is uncomfortable with America’s superpower responsibilities and status and hegemony so I don’t think that’s what you have with this Administration. I think it’s a coincidence but the irony is very bitter: the week Vladimir Putin invades Russia; the President brings a budget to Congress cutting our military deeply, so I just don’t think you have that kind of an Administration that lends itself to good, bipartisan foreign policy.  

Charlie Rose: Let me take you back to CPAC and the vigorous debate. On the one hand, there was Governor Chris Christie who talked about an inclusive party; on the other hand, there was Senator Ted Cruz who talked about a different massage. What’s happening in terms of those two poles of the Republican Party?

Paul Ryan: They’re within a big tent. That was the point of my speech about the Republican Party. We are not having disagreements with each other on principles or even policies, the disagreements that have occurred have really been over tactics. So I think we should all put it in perspective. I call it the battle of ideas. It’s creative tension. I don’t think there’s really this vast civil war in the Republican Party that many on the left might suggest there is. I think we’re a party with vibrant debate, adding ideas, solving problems and I think we’re going to be okay.  

Charlie Rose: There’s no better place to participate in a debate than to be a Presidential candidate as you know because you’ve been a Vice Presidential nominee, so therefore the question is if you look at Iowa and a straw poll, 67% of the people said they want you to run for President, Do you want to run for President?

Paul Ryan: Well, I’m a friendly next door neighbor in Wisconsin. What I think I ought to do is focus on my job here in Congress. Janna and I are going to sit down in 2015 and give it the serious conversation and consideration that it requires. We’re keeping our options open but right now, I have responsibilities in the majority in the House of Representatives that I feel I ought to attend to and then I’ll worry about those things after this election.    

Charlie Rose: Would you rather be Speaker of the House?

Paul Ryan: No, I’ve already kind of ruled that one out. I think there are other places I would rather be than that. John Boehner’s doing a fine job. I know he’s controversial but I think he’s doing a very, very good job. 

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