November 12th, 2012
06:42 PM ET
2 years ago

Ryan says Obama won 'fair and square'

(CNN) - Rep. Paul Ryan described his election loss with Mitt Romney last week as a painful surprise but argued the president won re-election "fair and square," according to the congressman's interviews with local news outlets in Wisconsin on Monday.

"It hurts to lose a big election like this, but I don't have any regrets whatsoever," Ryan told The Journal Times of Racine on Monday, adding that they "ran the kind of race we wanted to run" and campaigned on "specific solutions and big ideas."

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The former GOP vice presidential nominee said the campaign was especially "shocked" by the results in Ohio, a crucial battleground that was carried by Obama.

"Once we realized that we weren’t going to win Ohio, that’s when we realized that it wasn’t going to turn out for us," he said on WISN, a CNN affiliate in Milwaukee.

"The numbers we were looking at looked like we stood a pretty good chance of winning," he continued. "So, when the numbers came in, going the other direction. When we saw the turnout that was occurring in urban areas that were unprecedented, it did come as a bit of a shock. So, those are the toughest losses to have - the ones that catch you by surprise."

And to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he described election night-his first loss ever-as a "foreign experience" but ultimately said the race was a "very net positive experience" for him and his wife, Janna.

While public polls indicated the race could potentially be too close to call on election night, President Barack Obama was projected to win the race by midnight (Eastern Standard Time). Florida, the remaining battleground that had yet to decide a winner, was called for the president on Saturday. In the end, Obama won with 51% of the vote to Romney's 48%.

Ryan said Obama's campaign "did a better job of getting the voters to the polls" and ultimately "won fair and square," according to the Journal Times.

Following election night, Ryan returned to his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin and "unplugged," he told the Journal Times. The congressman said he went to his son's basketball games and helped his daughter, Liza, get her hunter safety certificate. Placing a ban on news, Ryan said his family only watched football.

While he lost the presidential race, Ryan defeated his Democratic challenger in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District and won re-election to an eighth term in the House. He'll soon head back to Capitol Hill for a lame duck session where Congress faces an end-of-the-year deadline to find a deficit-reduction plan and avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Ryan, echoing calls by House Speaker John Boehner, said the president needs to "lead by putting out specific solutions that we can work from" in determining how to reverse the nation's skyrocketing debt. The House Budget Committee chairman, who confirmed he would continue to hold the position, said he favors tax reform and a "hard look" at entitlement programs.

Democrats, however, are pushing for an increase on tax rates for the wealthiest Americans in addition to spending cuts-a measure that faces strong opposition from the GOP.

"Whether people intended to or not, they re-elected a divided government," Ryan told the Journal Times. "But the difference is, this time we need to work."

As for 2016, he brushed off talk of a presidential run, telling the Journal Sentinel "Let's not talk about that stuff."

"That's four years away," he continued. "I think we're all tired of presidential politics at this time."


- CNN Political Coverage Manager Steve Brusk contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Paul Ryan • Wisconsin
soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Neither you or Willard carried your home states. What does that tell you. And by the way, this must be surprise number two. The first was the actor/director talking to a chair. Take a cue.

    November 12, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Richard Ryder

    We could not have "Richie Cunningham" as the Veep a heartbeat from the President! Ryan comes across like a little boy...and his facial expressions don't leave a whole lot of feelings of a strong leader. During the VP debate, when Ryan was taking drinks of water, he looked like a 12 year old at summer camp. And everytime he opens his mouth, he sounds like he is in 8th grades civics class....just no credibility. If the GOP starts looking at themselves, they need to examine their VP picks...Palin and now Ryan? No way Jose....Maybe Huntsman or Rubio...but not Ryan.

    Most fed employees I know would not vote for Ryan as he is the reason they have lost 3 pay raises in a row thanks to Ryan and his budget committee. Everyone wants to do their fair share, but 3 years in a row? Not one of my fed friends voted for Romney/Ryan.

    November 12, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  3. Dave A

    Obama one in spite of Repubes efforts to screw with the votes and buy there way in. Obama won because he is a better human being that Mitty and Paulette combined

    November 12, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  4. Wanderer

    Like John Mc Cain in 2008, why now is the R- R ticket graceful after defeated? I think the GOP should start realizing their hypocrisy and thinking about better treating the middle class, women, minorities, and the poor. Perhaps, the next generation of American people will be thinking about electing a GOP POTUS.

    November 12, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  5. k-k

    You got it now good good may GOD bless america!!

    November 12, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  6. Jzapata

    Hats off to Mr Ryan for saying it was fair and square. They ran the race we hoped to run. Wish all the people with hatred in their hearts would listen to this young but wise man.

    November 12, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  7. john

    "The numbers we were looking at looked like we stood a pretty good chance of winning,": That pretty much so sums it up why they lost. I remember when I was in business school taking marketing class and one of the most important rules was this: "Never fall in love with your product".Romney Ryan fell in love with their "product" despite evidence to the contrary that ultimately it would not sell and they paid for it. The GOP pundits that have trie to explain away the loss with oversimplification of the electorate procedd to exacerbate the problem with the GOP. other than the dittoheads of the world most voters probably choose their candidate by at least three crtera mine were: If Mitt was such a great governor why was his own state the he governed voting for him? Next was the 47 pecent thing even though I'm not one of them who the heck is this guy to be dismissing these people? and finally that eddie munster thing on his running mates head was definitely something I would not have been able to put up with for four years.

    November 12, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  8. dfeaster

    I hope Ryan learned that America is not like he currently believes.

    November 12, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  9. California Grandma

    I just wonder what state our country would be in today if the GOP had 'worked' over the past four years...

    November 12, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  10. JPX

    campaigned on "specific solutions and big ideas." Really? I don't recall any specifics whatsoever. "The numbers we were looking at looked like we stood a pretty good chance of winning," FOX News number don't count. It's the social issues, stupid.

    November 12, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  11. DENNA

    LOL – The GOP got a cold hard slap on the face from reality. Next time TELL THE TRUTH! We voters began to realize that the GOP was playing us and we did not like it. America has changed and your simple-minded strategy of divide and conquer won't work anymore as there are not enough of you. In fact, ask Jeb Bush and he will tell you that you need to not just lie for votes, you need to seriously open up that big old tent.

    November 12, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  12. Phill

    Please run so the Dems can win again!

    November 12, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  13. Keith

    The wingnuts in the Tea Party are going to be awfully disappointed in hearing this.

    November 12, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  14. Len

    Finally, someone actually telling the truth. Maybe we will get something done.

    November 12, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. Zenger Folkman

    " president won re-election "fair and square," This time Ryan is not lying.

    November 12, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I hope that he understands that he must learn that rates must increase along reforming the tax code. We must also look to reform departments and programs to increase efficiency and reduce spending.

    November 12, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  17. trumod

    Yo, Ryan: your big ideas and specifics were rejected. Deal with it.

    November 12, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  18. IvotedforObama

    He is already preparing himself for the GOP primary debates against Rubio. He is wasting his time though because Rubio has already been picked to be the GOP nominee in 2016 because he is going to be the token "minority" in the hopes the GOP will win the Hispanic vote in 2016.

    November 12, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  19. Guitar

    First interview he's had in a long time where he actually spoke 'the truth'!

    November 12, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  20. Vincent

    I admire Paul Ryan's honesty. Though it was a hard defeat, he seems genuine in stating that the President got elected fair and square. Paul, you're a good man and I am positive this is not the last time we will hear of you. Great future lies ahead for you in American politics in the years to come. You're a smart man.

    November 12, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  21. jim atmad

    Malia Obama will be a viable candidate before Paul Ryan will be seriously considered for the presidency again.

    Mr Ryan LOST his home town of Janesville by 55% to 44%, the first time he lost there since his first election. He also lost his home Rock County. The only reason he was reelected was that the GOP gerrymandered a big chunk of GOP-rich Waukesha County into his district.

    Mr Ryan is absolutely toxic outside of the strongest GOP areas, and NOBODY will forget that he wanted to destroy Medicare for anybody born after 1957.

    November 12, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  22. TexMan

    Perhaps if he agrees to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy he will be in a better position to ague for and receive cuts in "entitlement" spending. If the GOP would do that it would begin what is necessary to pull middle class voters back to the the GOP. It the GOP again permits the economy and national credit rating to be scuttled to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy it will be headed for another disaster in the midterm elections and those occurring afterwards.

    November 12, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  23. rand

    I commend Congressman Ryan on his 'sportsman-like' approach to his Vice-presidential loss. What I would really like to hear from the past Republican candidates – is their reaction to the gang-busting approach toward voter suppresion in swing states. It seems to me, with no acknowledgement of the illegal attempt to suppress such votes, albeit the condemnation of such, Republicans such as Mr. Ryan have very little chance of acheiving any sense of legitimacy. There should also be a condemnation of the racist rhetoric on the republican media channel – Fox. For once, I would like to see a man of integrity standing against such, within the Republican representative party.

    November 12, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  24. AdamCO

    Paul Ryan get's it. Most of my republican friends don't.

    November 12, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  25. Name laz Pittman

    I am a democrat and I really enjoyed seeing this natural side of Ryan. Very nicely done.

    November 12, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
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