November 12th, 2012
06:42 PM ET
9 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. What a difference an election makes

    The elephant in the room is this: The Republican party caters to the very wealthy for obvious reasons. What's not so obvious is why this party attracts so many poverty stricken whites. Democrats have worked tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of this nation's poor and have been vilified for their efforts, and lest anyone freak out, I'm not talking about handouts!! Democrats championed Social Security, outlawed child labor laws and sweatshops, made welcome anyone who felt left out of the democratic process and many other accomplishments to numerous to mention. If Democrats would reinvigorate the 50 state strategy to win elections (former DNC chair Howard Dean's vision), 2014 and beyond should be a cakewalk!

    November 13, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. Actually

    I would say that the fear of Romney becoming president got a lot more people to the polls than is realized. That is the American presidential elections, it's just choosing the lesser of two evils. I wouldn't have chosen either, but in America you have to choose one.

    November 13, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. phil5865

    I didn't have time to read all the previous comments so excuse me if this seems to be a little repetitive.

    What strikes me on Paul Ryan is the fact that he let his name on the congressional ballot. If he was so sure to be the next vice-president, why did he need to be also elected to Congress ?

    As for the Tea Party being against «professional politicians», is there a more «professional politician» than Paul Ryan who has never had a «real job» outside of Washington since the early/mid 1990's and has been elected since 1998 ?

    November 13, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Tex71

    Yes, the tone is rather subdued over at the GOP these days.
    The only thing they were working towards for the last four years was to keep Barack Obama from being re-elected. That was their entire agenda, the focus of all their energy, and the target for all the hundreds of millions of dollars they raised in contributions. For perhaps the first time in US history – certainly for the first time since the Civil War – a political party put all its efforts towards a single negative goal. And they failed.

    November 13, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Ancient Texan

    Canuck- I think you are correct about people seeing what they want to see...The majority of voters chose to believe the $200 million worth of UNTRUE early ads run by Obama and his Super PACS in their effort to destroy him before he was even nominated. The men were entirely different than the ads portrayed them.

    November 13, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. GRWohio

    Ryan's comments show his character. Hard to imagine Obama showing this kind of grace in the same situation. He lost the first debate and then had his entire campaign refer to Romney as a liar.

    I hope Obama is ready to really lead on the deficit reduction now. Have not seen one thing from this president that represents a credible plan for reducing the deficit. Maybe he has more "flexibility" now that he won the election. So far, I have seen nothing since the election that indicates any kind of new bi-partisan approach.

    November 13, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. beefromnj

    So True Richard!! ALso i just don't understand why they thought they had a strong chance of winning Ohio. I just never saw that. If any state the should have thought they would have had a change in. I would be Florida since they did all they could to keep people from getting to the polls, but that backfired on them big time. Shame on them!!

    November 13, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Facts don't Lie

    Once all this dust settles and Romney or Ryan give their first interview about this election there one thing I would really like to know, though I doubt if any interviewer would ask them. Why did the Romney campaign think that they could get away with telling half-truths and complete lies, double down on them when proven not to be true and think that they could win an election doing so? I know most campaigns is some cases stretch the true a bit, but usually if called out on it they back track or admit they were wrong. These people not only didn't care about facts they tried to create their OWN facts. I think the Jeep ad was a killer for them. The people in Oho are not stupid and when the CEOs call you out and say your ad is false and you keep running it that shows something is wrong with your campaign.

    November 13, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. maine liberal

    those making over 250k will continue to get all the bush tax cuts up to that level (even no tax on their first 10k)
    they will pay an additional 4 percent on income above 250k Four Dollars per thousand.
    At 115k they get a 6 percent cut by not having to pay social security ...

    November 13, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. TerryG

    Looks to me like the majority of Wisconsin voters are able to think logically and vote accordingly. Too bad I can't say the same for the voters in Mr. Ryan's district.

    November 13, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Joe

    " and campaigned on "specific solutions and big ideas." Really? When I listened to Ryan in his vice presidential debate and Romney in his presidential debates I do not recall any specifics being discussed. All I heard were hollow arguments that informed the public of absolutely nothing. Seems Ryan will deceive and twist facts until the bitter end.

    November 13, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. hot air warrior

    The Republicans just can't admit they had a losing party platform.

    November 13, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. wade moran

    He hit the nail on the head with "urban voters....' Unfortunately, they usually decide both national and Gubernatorial races, but contribute little to society or the tax base. When TSHTF, these city folks are going to be the onces suffering and starving to death under their own policies, while the rest of American will be self-sufficient and able to cope. Just be sure and look to your elected leaders, not us, when you can't fend for yourself and see how far you get. Just ask N.J.

    November 13, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  14. SafeJourndy

    Frum said the Republicans party was fleeced, exploited and lied to by the right wing entertainment media. ie: fox news and Limbaugh.

    November 13, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Brenda

    Good lord. These "wealthy Republican" comments are tired and old. The fact of the matter is this: the Republican party actually does support an overall tax increase on the wealthy... it's how we get there that is at issue. We do not want to INCREASE TAX RATES... we want to simplify the tax code so there are fewer loopholes and deductions. You see, the Democrat party wants to keep the country divided and make people think they are the only ones who are for the middle class and lower income people, when in reality they want to keep people in the dark and tell about rich, white Republican tactics at lowering there taxes and the rich guy who pays less then his secretary. You get rid of loopholes and their deductions and there is no more mystery.

    November 13, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. Former Republican, now an Independent

    They were surprised because they believed Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Rielly and the rest of the Fox News puppets. If you want to know facts, you have to get off of the Fox News channel and pay some attention to fact based news sources. Fox has never been a fact based news channel, it is merely a conservative journalism channel, based on opinion in lieu of facts.

    November 13, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. ja

    the gop is to exclusive, 47 % is half of america, most of america is immigrants just generations removed

    November 13, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Ancient Texan

    There are lots of comments here about "the GOP is finished", but if in 4 years the economy isn't booming, the unemployment rate isn't much lower, and even more folks are on welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, and dependent of government, the Socialist/Progressive party will be "finished".

    November 13, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Not buying it

    Do not let your guard down with Ryan! The rest of Wisconsin is waking up to what the Republicans have done to their state.
    I don't blame them, it just has taken them a little longer to understand what the rest of us already knew. The Republicans chose to completely disregard anyone who did not follow their agenda.

    November 13, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. Fair is Fair

    "I say again: the first thing the Dems in the House should propose and force to a vote is legislation that would limit the maximum amount of federal aid a state can receive to the amount of federal taxes paid by its citizens."
    Fine by me... right after the Feds cede all federal lands within the individual states back to the states. Deal? No? Why not?

    November 13, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |

    The only message I got from Congressman Ryan and Mitt Romney was that they were incapable of telling the truth. Why would anyone vote for these men with little character and for the Congressman who spent the last four years as a leader of obstructionists in Congress? The American people have spoken and it is time for Ryan and his cronies to understand we chose the President and his policies and not those of Grover Norquist and the Tea Party. The time has come for the GOP to sever their ties to Norquist and get to work for the people who employ them.

    November 13, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    "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, this GOTP hamster can't figure out the cage that they've enclosed themselves in, either.

    It's real simple. Pres. Obama won the argument. raising taxes on the wealthy. The GOTP kept the House because they won the "argument" on cutting spending. The problem is that there are some conservative hamsters out there that think they won the tax argument.

    November 13, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Revisionist?

    Almost feel out of my chair laughing when Ryan was quoted as saying "specific solutions and big ideas." During the entire race neither he nor Mitt gave what specific steps they would do to fix anything. They just spouted the nebulous "I will fix X."

    November 13, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Keith

    Qualifying my statements with the fact that I'm quite liberal, I actually don't mind this guy. I don't agree with ANYTHING in his budget or his ideology, but at least he's transparent about what he believes in, he made an attempt at writing clear policy, and (best I can tell) he's actually a reasonably nice guy. So while I would never, ever, ever vote for Paul Ryan, he is a model for what politicians should actually be doing: being consistent and transparent, while making an attempt to solve problems.

    November 13, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. ObaWendon

    Our country has moved past the days of the "Good Old (white) Boys Club" as shown by these elections. We are an amazing country of diversity and with that diversity comes different perspectives on every issue. This is a good thing! The days of women being a 2nd class citizen are in the past, along with minorities being minorities. Time for the GOP to realize that this is no longer the "south" in the 1800's, but America in the 21st century. As a country we need to embrace our differences and appreciate them! We can come back as being the greatest country on Earth if we wake up. We need to get the deficit under control by balanced procedures that also include tax revenues coming in. While I personally feel 240k is a bit on the low side, those who are doing well should be more willing to be good Americans and help in any way they can. It's not wealth being robbed, its about keeping our country great. Think about it!

    November 13, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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