November 12th, 2012
06:42 PM ET
1 year 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. Andrew

    Obama winning "fair and square" doesn't quite describe it. With all the voter suppression efforts of the Republican Party I think it is fair to to say Obama won in spite of billion dollar attempts to cheat by the Republican Party.

    November 13, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  2. A. P. Suess

    I give Mr. Ryan an awful lot of credit for accepting the election results with both professionalism and integrity. Someone who praises their opponent's victory is certainly the type of leader we need more of

    November 13, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  3. I'M JUST SAYING TOO!!l!t

    Mr Ryan,your campaign had NO specific solutions, NO big ideas, (actually no ideas at all with the exception of getting President Obama out of office!) What happend was, you like so many other "sheep led to the slaughter", bought into the bogus, outrageous lies put out by the candidate, the campaign and the superpacks that paid large sums of money for TV time. If it is true that you guys "ran the kind of campaign that you wanted to run", then don't even think about running in 2016! Also, make no mistake sir, it was not only the "urban areas" that got you, it was America!! My advice, wake up, wise up, and man up before you get another surprise in 2016!!!

    November 13, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  4. Stopthemadness

    "We ran the campaign we wanted to run and it wasn't enough. We just have to accept that." Well Mr. Ryan the campaign you wanted to run was one of hate and bigotry. You lost because your "Campaign" was not what Americans wanted. You lost because you didn't have a clue. And to be shocked that you lost says how out of touch with reality you really are.

    November 13, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  5. Jamie

    Damn those "urban" people for voting!

    Disgusting when a campaign bases its expectations over which groups they can count on (they think) not to show up at the polls, rather than offer a message inclusive of everyone, hoping to be chosen for their ideas and intentions.

    November 13, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  6. Shannon

    well how nice of Mr Ryan to admit the President won fair and square, and how revealing that he doesn't regret anything. I guess that means if he decides to run again, he'll continue to attack the poor, women and minorities. I guess he'll continue to try to redefine rape, and destroy the social network. Those nuns on the bus are never going to get a break, as they travel around telling America how immoral the Ryan budget and outlook on life is. Good luck Republicans, you haven't learned a thing.

    November 13, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  7. Vincent

    Tear up Grover Norquists piece of paper. That should be the first and most important service any of these politicians can do for their country.
    Spending cuts, increased tax revenue, new sources of revenue, and tax reform. Everything needs to be on the table and a part of the solution.

    November 13, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  8. Betsy 44

    Don't kid yourself he will run in 2016 and I hope he does, he will not win then either. Can't even imagine him thinking they were going to win. You cannot lie your way to the Presidency! You only win in your district because of gerrymandering and you know it.

    November 13, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  9. RGF

    Paul Ryan is the poster boy for a dysfunctional Congress, specifically the House. He was the leader that walked away from a deal that brought on the "fiscal cliff". He has little or no credibility left. How many repeals of the health care act do you think they will vote on in the upcoming secession? The over is at 15.

    November 13, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  10. jaydee

    Ryan you and Mitt should not been heading the ticket.

    November 13, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  11. artraveler

    Ryan seems rational and that is a change. Maybe if the rest of his party would stop trying to change the results and actually get to work, the American people will come out ahead. We didn't vote for another 4 years of obstruction and if the Repuublicans start wanting to mess with Social Security and Medicare or get back into their Taliban mode again, they could find that even the "safe" districts they have engineered for themselves could backfire.

    November 13, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  12. sick of republican phonies

    Ryan said they "ran the kind of race we wanted to run" and campaigned on "specific solutions and big ideas." CNN must have interviewed the Bizarro World Ryan.

    November 13, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  13. NoWay

    Ryan needs to just go away. His proposals are surely against the average non-rich individual.

    November 13, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  14. Tom

    "The difference is, this time we need to work." – TOGETHER. I fixed it for you Paul, what happened to the last time around?

    November 13, 2012 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  15. Susan

    This is an uplifting article. It is great to know that with Republicans like Paul Ryan there is hope to fix the Republican Party and bring the nation together.

    November 13, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  16. southexas

    Know wonder he lost since he has no idea what the 3/4 of Americans want and need.

    November 13, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  17. WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF EVIDENT

    Yes, turnout in the urban districts in the battle ground states were unprecedented because when you try to violate people's constitutional rights through voter suppression and voter fraud, people get motivated and energized to make sure thieir voices are heard. You conservatives gambled by taking the AFC to the Supreme Court and you loose and you gambled by messing with people's unalienable rights to vote and people get motivated and they registered in record numbers and stayed in line for 5,6,7,8 hours to send a resounding message on election day. You conservatives tried to supress the vote and your illegitimate voter suppression campaign backfiredHey. Hey, never mess with the tide of CHANGE and never ever underestimate the will and resolve of the people.

    Congratulations President Obama! Four more years baby!

    November 13, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  18. nycowboysfan

    I can't imagine what their numbers were telling them! Every poll had the President leading in Ohio; all within the margin of error mind you. But they never lead, ever!

    November 13, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  19. nycowboysfan

    I can't understand why their polling numbers in Ohio seemed favorable to them. Every poll out there had the President leading; all within the margin of error mind you. But they never ever lead! Then again their model was based on turnout from 2004. They never dreamed the President could turnout the numbers he did in 2008 again. Surprise, surprise...

    November 13, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  20. julie

    he is telling the TRUTH for once....they did run the campaigned the way THEY wanted to..........they DID NOT let FACT CHECK rule their campaigne.......................lies, lies and more lies too many to point out.....but I think I missed the campaiging on specfics and ideas–okay their ideas just wouldn't of helped middle class or poor-don't know HOW OR WHY he was shocked they lost ohio after that Jeep's going to china lie–

    ANYWAY, America you did VERY WELL the BEST MAN WON.....................now lets get to work...if you're not a part of the SOLUTION then you're part of the PROBLEM

    November 13, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  21. Michael Q

    Sometimes reality has a positive effect on certain people, and I respect Ryan for a positive response to his loss. It will be interesting to monitor his positions over the next couple of years. Although I disagree with his solutions in the past, I look forward to seeing how he actually tries to accomplish something for the benefit of country, not just his party's agenda of negative obstruction against anything Obama said or did. That tactic didn't work out and the voters, especially in the urban areas, accepted Obama over negative politics.

    November 13, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  22. Ron

    Nice of him to say but... Yes, we heard all about big ideas, believe me I was listening. However, what I needed to hear about was big solutions. That never came so my vote didn't either...

    November 13, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  23. belladaddy

    REALLY? Oh wait, that's right...nothing but obstruction, division and "one term President" pledges in the last four years!!!

    Ryan told the Journal Times. "But the difference is, this time we need to work."

    November 13, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  24. Hindsight 20/20

    Well, what a good thing to admit. Now, everyone else please move on by helping your country get better.

    November 13, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  25. Phyllis G Williams

    That's great. He is a noble lad (smile)

    November 13, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
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