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. Kate65

    Wow, out of the mouth's of babes. Now if only the Romney supporters who are still denying that the President won "fair and square" could get through their sulks.

    November 13, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  2. alpeaston

    Yes, no matter what "dirty polling tricks" the Republicans tried to sneak past those watching the polls, it did not work. In fact the arrogance to attempt to block poor and black Americans is what propelled most of those who turned out for Obama to get out and vote (even if they did have to wait 4 hour to vote)!!!. Its possible, had Romney's henchmen not been so set on trying to "fix" the election, that Romney might have stood a chance! Too bad Romney could not run a fair and square campaign!

    November 13, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  3. Jeff O'Dette

    He couldnt win against my cat. No tea party right wing fanaic will ever win a national election. Thank our lucky stars!

    November 13, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  4. FREEDOM

    Romney and Ryan are very honorable men and would have been great leaders of our nation. Ryan will most certainly contribute in big ways in the future with his intelligence and vigor. It is also disapponting to read some articles on CNN, namely one about facebook and Romney. You can't demean a great man like Romney with a comparison to facebook "likes". Why don't you all rise above the fray instead of feeding it and dwelling in it? But then again, look at the election.

    November 13, 2012 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  5. BeverlyNC

    I knew Romney was in trouble as soon as he picked Ryan. Ryan was the best known policy extremist in the Republican Party. He has spent his entire lfe in politics, does not relate well to People, and is more at home in procedural meetings having nothing to deal with real life. The Ryan budget was a disaster to America. Destruction of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Destruction of healthcare. Destruction of all funding for public education. Destruction of the minimum wage, workers comp, unemployment insurance. Destruction of veteran benefits and pensions. That's before Ryan gets to killing all programs for the poor like food stamps and even hot school lunches for poor children. Values? This from a Congressman who get a 6 figure salary, a cadillac healthcare plan and a full pension after 6 years in office.

    November 13, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  6. Evan

    No comments yet. Good. I'm honestly surprised a hatemongering Obama fanboy hasn't posted some critique of how Ryan spent his time post election. I'm equally happy not to see a million hatemongering Romney supporters immediately attacking the critic, or whining about the election, or anything to that effect. Truth is, this is Paul Ryan. He's not a vampire out to suck Medicaid dry. He's not the second coming of Christ, nor is he the second coming of Bush. He's just a regular guy like you and I, and I look forward to seeing the animosity towards him dissipate until he is no longer under the constant scrutiny of us spiteful voters. He can finally spend time with his family, and go back to the job he was doing.

    I truly feel for President Obama and his family, as well as the family of his Vice President; I feel for all of those who are currently overseas and are separated from their families. At the end of the day, none of these men are vile as their opponents try to paint them. Obama wishes no harm on anyone's well being, nor did Romney. Both love and care for America in the same ways but have different views on how to make the lives of every American better. It's easy to lose sight of the humanity of either candidate between the hate that we spread, but at the end of the day, we can all see a bit of ourselves in the four men that ran this race.

    November 13, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  7. Alfred E. Neuman

    I must have missed that campaign! Solutions and big ideas?

    November 13, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  8. Thomas

    An Arizona woman, in despair at the re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama, ran down her husband with the family car in suburban Phoenix on Saturday because he failed to vote in the election, police said on Monday.

    Wow , til death do us part or cars don't kill people , people do ?

    November 13, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  9. jake

    this is the first time this guy made sense in the last year. to bad it was after he lost the election. so humbling and dose of reality can be. you lost because of your ideology. ideology will always lose over common sense and compromise. and thats why the gop will lose in 4 years and 8 years and 12 years etc etc etc...

    November 13, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  10. JPNAmerican

    He said he wanted to campaign on big ideas and specifics?! What was stopping him from doing that?! Everyone wanted to know Romney's specifics that's why he lost a lot of votes.

    November 13, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  11. Kurt

    Funny, I thought the House and Senate were supposed to collaborate on bills then present it to the President. If not, they way are we wasting taxpayer dollars on the House and Senate members?

    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.

    November 13, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  12. gary carlson

    As an Obama supporter, I appreciate the gracious words of Rep. Ryan. I'm sure it was a tough loss, but recognizing the legitimacy of Obama's victory is a sign that he's not 'unhinged' like those trying to secede. Good job Congressman.

    November 13, 2012 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  13. sick

    "But the difference is, this time we need to work." what a concept!!!. So why should you get paid for doing nothing the first time around? Sounds like an entitlement we should look at reducing.

    November 13, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  14. Daniel "47%" Smith

    Nobody wants what you are offering, Mr Ryan. The GOP is represented by hate mongers like Limbaugh and O'Reily. You got in bed with Tea-Party idiots like Walsh. Tax cuts, Tax cuts, Tax cuts! You have nothing to offer, but to be prostitutes for Grover Norquist. Just like George W, whom you guys elected twice but now treat like the plague. Fox News fooled you into thinking you had a shot, Marathon Man. Tell Mitt that next time he decides that he wants to be President to show his tax returns.

    November 13, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  15. Dave

    "But the difference is, this time we need to work."

    This is basically an admission to past obstructionist tactics by congressional republicans. In two years, if the repubs continue to block any progress, they will be roundly voted out of Congress,.....and I think they know it.

    November 13, 2012 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  16. Ed Zepp

    For Ryan to say that Obama won "fair and square" is a big deal. But in the interests of the nation, he needs to say that, LOUDLY, to the conservatives like Trump and Rove and Limbaugh, and tell them to shut up. Otherwise , we're going to have 4 more years of these clowns trying to delegitimize the President and hinder progress we need as a nation.

    November 13, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  17. Howard

    His graciousness and "no excuses" comments have raised my estimation of Paul Ryan several notches. That was a class act.

    November 13, 2012 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  18. Iamnotfooled

    Yes Ryan –it is time for work. That's the mandate for Congress. The people have spoken and they want President Obama's plan not yours. So work with him since you don't have to tell them not to pass the Grand Bargain because it will ensure President Obama a second term like you did last year. Stop playing games. You guys have wasted two years of peoples lives! Not to mention the country's credit rating. Stop acting like children and work together and compromise. And kick Grover to the curb or you guys will be kicked to the curb come 2014. Raise taxes on the wealthy and extend the Bush tax cuts for the middleclass and poor. Spending cuts have been taken care of. Balanced approach. Tell Mitch we are watching him too. He is up for re-election in 2014.

    November 13, 2012 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  19. Mforward2012

    Amazing, He can tell the truth.

    November 13, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  20. Derek

    For once, I agree with Ryan. We all ARE tired of Presidential politics at this time. Now march your butts back into Congress and DO SOMETHING!!! Instead of tax payers paying you WAY TO MUCH to look pretty, and attempt to score political points for an upcoming election!!

    November 13, 2012 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  21. 40acres

    Had the people been given a choice to elect a divived government or not I doubt they would have wanted the divide. As it stands I could only vote one Rep out or in and I did my part to try to end the divide.

    November 13, 2012 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  22. Here we go again

    There are plenty of specific solutions Ryan. You guys just aren't listening.

    November 13, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  23. Kacy Ray

    "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."

    Unlike last time, when all that mattered was getting the White House back. Right?

    November 13, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  24. The Truth Hurts!

    "Specific solutions and big ideas"?? Really?? I don't recall any "specifics!! Not do I recall and "solutions"!!

    Ryan and Rmoney ran on lies and deceit and a false defamation of the President's character and policies.
    Their "campaign" amounted to a war on the poor and the middle-class that was ruthlessly waged at the behest of their billionaire benefactors!! And, it's defeat is a victory not for just ordinary Americans, but for all Americans. It is a victory for sanity and Science. A victory for common-decency and peace. And, ultimately, a victory for perhaps the entire world!

    Mr. Ryan, I sincerely hope that you do run again in 2016, and that it is you who receives the Repuglican nomination. It will guarantee yet another victory for Democrats..

    November 13, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  25. PHinMiami

    Ryan said Obama's campaign "did a better job of getting the voters to the polls".

    No Paul, you helped get Democratic voters to the polls. Stopping at a 'Soup Kitchen' for 15 min., donning an apron and 'pretending' to wash (already clean) pots was a clear demonstration of your 'real' agenda. The GOP "Dog & Pony Show" was a ruse to regain control of policies, looting the working man.

    It was no surprise, just step out of the Fox bubble.

    November 13, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
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