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. Julie

    I voted for Obama, but good for Ryan for taking the loss in a mature way. You don't see enough of that anymore.

    November 13, 2012 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  2. Leonard Edelen

    Well, damn at least one republican has some sense to accept reality!

    November 13, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  3. Kay

    The GOP was never fully behind Romney, just like they were never fully behind McCain. They need to nominate candidates they actually support, rather than those they have to choose because there's nobody else available.

    November 13, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  4. A little sad

    Now that Obama won "fair & square", how long will it be until Romney revise his tax return to claim additional deductions?

    November 13, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ryan said Obama's campaign "did a better job of getting the voters to the polls" and ultimately "won fair and square,"
    -------------------------------------------------
    The first truth I've ever heard Lying Ryan utter.

    Here's the second: "...they re-elected a divided government," Ryan told the Journal Times. "But the difference is, this time we need to work."
    Correct Ryan. This time around YOUR team needs to work. The people may have re-elected a didvided government but even folks like you have hopefully relaized that we know who was hard at work on our behalf and being blocked by do-nothings every step of the way.
    We re-elected the hard worker. FOWARD America.

    November 13, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  6. GI Joe

    ?? Ran the campaign they wanted to?? The wanted lies, deviousness, and scare tactics? It's a shame his people in Wisc. didn't vote him out. Maybe in 2014.

    November 13, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  7. sidprejean

    Sounds like a stand-up guy. Wrong on the issues (that's why we have elections), but a stand-up guy.

    November 13, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  8. independent

    Cut waste, cut the military, freeze Med and SS, Retain Bush tax cuts for those under $1m, Bring back the Clinton tax rates for those above $1m, Slash farm subsidies for corporate farms over $50m in revenue. Then, review all items in the budget for effectiveness, to be reduced. Get back to an annual surplus and pay down the debt.
    Only increase spending, slightly, in infrastructure, education, Space research, and innovative energy solutions.

    November 13, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  9. jakibros

    "But the difference is, this time we need to work." ...... Seriously???? What have you all been doing for the past years? Instead of spouting crazy talk about rape, creationism, abortion and a "just say no" attitude against Obama, how about working on creating American jobs, getting the tax issue resolved and fixing the debt. Even Bill Gates said he was okay paying a higher tax rate. Billionaires don't even blink at taxes and they put all their money in off shore accounts anyway. Fix the issues and the Federal government won't have to stick their nose into citizen business. Keep sticking to Republican crazy tea party nonsense and this country will be run into the ground.

    November 13, 2012 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  10. NameAMERICA 1st

    Its very clear that the nobama adminisration is full if deceit and treachery!!!!

    November 13, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  11. NameAMERICA 1st

    The nobama regime is heading the USA to full and complete destruction!!!

    November 13, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Foreign experience?" What the heck does THAT mean?
    -------------------------------------------------
    I guess it's supposed to mean that he's NEVER lost to anybody.
    He's ALWAYS been a winner.
    Like that olympic marathon he ran.....what was it? Four miles in 30 seconds or something like that?!
    Bwahahahahahahaha.
    Well Lyng Ryan, at least you got your butt gift wrapped and handed to you in a presidential race by the best of the best.
    Some comfort can be had in that certain knowledge.

    November 13, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  13. NameAMERICA 1st

    Its totally amazing how incredibly stupid the American population was in reselecting nobama. God help and bless the USA!!!!!

    November 13, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  14. GEN. BETRAYUS....WHOOPS.....PETREUS

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda, YOU LOST!!! Lucky for you Ryan that you held on to your congressional seat.

    November 13, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans only plan was "to make Obama a one term President", that was the only plan. They were so sure that would happen until all the other GOPers were just in it for money and fame otherwise why would they allow people like John Sununu, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich and others go "unchecked" who were offering nothing to their campaign but hate. A real leader would have shut them down letting them know there is no place in their campaign for their kind of rheteric, but they didn't.

    November 13, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    Specific solutions? Romney refused to give specifics, that's what he got hammered on. But, why should we be surprised, since these are the same folks who responded to reforming healthcare with a 17 page booklet. The GOP knows that the more detials they present about their plans, the less chance they have of winning. Be prepared for more vague promises and lots of vitriol instead of big ideas and specific solutions.

    November 13, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  17. Dave

    "But the difference is, this time we need to work," Ryn said. Why didn't they need to work four years ago? What's the difference now? Didn't the country need your help four years ago? I think he needs to be reminded of that statement every time he runs for office in the future.

    November 13, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  18. Lewis

    It is an unfortunate sign when a political party views voter turnout as a shock and a tough loss.
    Ryan: "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."

    November 13, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  19. Rhonda Rahn

    The GOP will continue to be the party of NO.

    They only care about the rich and they pander to the rich, so the GOP will shove the middle-class off the fiscal cliff with their bare hands.

    In 2014, let's vote all the Republicans OUT of the House. They obviously have not learned any lessons from their defeat in 2012. They continue to make their main agenda "anti-Obama" at any cost, and the cost is to you and me.

    November 13, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  20. Sandy

    So they didn't think they had an obligation to work with the President in his first term? Wow

    The President didn't just get more people to vote, the voters REJECTED your ideology and view of America. The President won fair and square because he told the truth, while you and Romney told a bunch of LIES.

    November 13, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  21. Glen

    If you are a Republican running for public office in the 2016 election, please study the observations noted in this list. There will be a quiz before the next primary:

    1. NEVER advise the auto industry and manufacturing sectors to declare a “managed bankruptcy” in a newspaper article. You risk being run off the campaign trail by san irate midwesterner driving a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado.
    2. NEVER ignore Latino and Black voters. 1 out of 10 voters in this country is Latino and they are our fastest-growing population in the US. 70% of all registered Latinovoters voted for the current president. If the republican strategists had done their homework after the last election, they would have figured this one out. Obviously, they didn’t. Hasta la vista, baby!
    3. NEVER suggest that privatizing an industry is the ultimateprescription for a struggling economy. Machines that are capable of doing the work of many individuals boost a private company’s profit margin and do not require a salary, health insurance, or a 401K plan.
    4. NEVER, ever ignore female voters. They brought you into this world and they can take you out of the running!
    5. NEVER ignore young college voters. These whippersnappers can be dangerous when they take a break from partying and begin to organize in groups on campus!
    6. NEVER say that you do not care about the other 47% of the country in a private setting. The 47% you are talking about probably have a Blackberry, iPhone, or Samsung III mobile device in their pockets and are recording your conference calls and meetings with remaining 53% while they are serving your guests tea and crumpets!
    7. NEVER mention “Sarah Palin” or “Karl Rove” at the dinner table (or anywhere else) when having anintelligent discussion about politics with your friends and family. If their names come up in conversation, please remove all underage children from the room and lock your doors before continuing the conversation.

    An afterthought... If Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, she will win by a landslide, so it is best to prepare for the 2012 election.

    November 13, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  22. Greg

    I would like to hear one of the specific solutions given that nothing specific was ever covered during their campaigning

    November 13, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  23. Seriously

    "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."

    Obviously they did not intend to, because democrats overwhelmingly won the popular vote for the House... Yet republicans still obtained more seats. Thanks gerrymandering.

    November 13, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  24. Potentmix

    "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."

    Hmm... Republicans couldn't even get voter suppression right.

    November 13, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  25. Boo

    At least Ryan isn't a whiner like his and Romney's supporters...that said, thank the powers that be that he and Romney lost.

    November 13, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
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