House Speaker Paul Ryan drew on Scottish folk hero William Wallace in a call to stop party infighting and take back the White House while speaking at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit today in Washington, D.C.
“The question we face in 2016 is simple: Do we want more of the same? Do we want the liberal progressives to lock in all their gains? Or are we, the other party—the conservative party—going to get the country back on the right track?” Ryan said. “And how do we do that? Well, to quote 'Braveheart,' we have to unite the clans.”
Ryan warned the Republicans to stop fighting on “hot-button” issues, such as guns, and to not “fall into the progressives' trap of acting like angry reactionaries.”
“The left would love nothing more than a fragmented conservative movement to stand in a circular firing squad and fire so the progressives would win by default,” he said.
Ryan speaking at the Heritage Action conference is noteworthy, as the group was a strong opposition to many issues on former Speaker John Boehner’s agenda before he left office in October. One of Boehner’s conservative opponents, Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, will speak at the conference just a few hours later about how the Caucus has impacted the House.
Another key part of Ryan’s address highlighted the importance of “being straight with the American people” about what can and cannot be accomplished right now in Washington, claiming it will “depress” the base and “in turn, help the Democrats stay in the White House.”
“We can’t promise that we can repeal Obamacare when a guy with the last name Obama is president,” Ryan said. “All that does is set us up for failure, and disappointment, and recriminations.”
He reiterated that uniting as a party is the only way that the Republicans will be able to reclaim the White House and move the conservative agenda forward—a message he has made clear since taking on the Speakership.
“I don’t want to set us up for failure. I want to set us up for success.” He added, “That’s something we all can work on—together. And the way to do that is to unify around a vision. We need to define the horizon we’re looking for. And then we need to bring the rest of the country with us.”