Former House Speaker Paul Ryan is set to criticize former President Donald Trump and his hold on the Republican Party during a speech Thursday night, according to excerpts obtained by CNN.
Ryan, a critic of the former President in the past, is expected to say at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, that Republicans must move away from the “populist appeal of one personality” because “then we’re not going anywhere.”
“Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads. And here’s one reality we have to face: If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or on second-rate imitations, then we’re not going anywhere. Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle,” Ryan is expected to say.
Punchbowl News was first to report the excerpts.
Although Ryan doesn’t mention Trump by name in his criticism, the expected remarks by the Republican Party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee will add him to a growing list of establishment Republicans who are publicly objecting to Trump’s grip on the party. Like-minded Republicans, including Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, have lamented the current direction of the party, which has actively rebuked and ostracized members who have taken on Trump and his brand of populist and nativist politics.
The excerpts indicate that Ryan plans to outline a path forward for the Republican Party in the Biden era. According to the excerpts, the only time Ryan will reference Trump by name is to praise him for how, at the start of 2020, the US “saw such incredibly powerful and inclusive economic growth,” though he suggests more credit is due to Reagan-inspired policy rather than Trumpism.
“It was the populism of President Trump in action, tethered to conservative principles,” he is expected to say.
In his speech, he also plans to warn his fellow conservatives at being drawn into cultural battles with Democrats.
“As the left gets more ‘woke,’ the rest of America is getting weary. It’s exhausting. And we conservatives have to be careful not to get caught up in every little cultural battle,” he will say. “Sometimes these skirmishes are just creations of outrage peddlers, detached from reality and not worth anybody’s time. They draw attention away from the far more important case we must make to the American people.”
Ryan will also criticize President Joe Biden, claiming he is “pursuing an agenda more leftist than any president in my lifetime.”
“In 2020, the country wanted a nice guy who would move to the center and depolarize our politics. Instead, we got a nice guy pursuing an agenda more leftist than any president in my lifetime. These policies might have the full approval of his progressive supporters, but they break faith with the middle-of-the-road folks who made the difference for him on Election Day,” he is expected to say.
Ryan, who decided to retire from Congress in 2018, has kept a relatively low profile since leaving Capitol Hill. He was seen as a rising star in the Republican Party before facing a high level of scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans alike over his relationship with Trump, with whom he occasionally clashed.
The Reagan Presidential Library is also expected to host former Vice President Mike Pence and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo this summer.