House Speaker Paul D. Ryan pleaded Wednesday for a truce with conservatives, saying bitter fighting over tactics in cutting spending or defunding Obamacare plays into President Obama’s hands, and prevents Republicans from settling on a broad Reagan-esque agenda.
In a speech at The Heritage Foundation, one of the heavyweight conservative groups that’s regularly battled GOP leaders in Congress, Mr. Ryan asked grass-roots leaders to focus on unifying to fight big ideological battles with Democrats rather than fight internal GOP feuds over legislative strategy, saying Republican voters are being misled and confused.
“Don’t take the bait. Let’s not fight over tactics. Don’t impugn people’s motives,” Mr. Ryan said, asking for space to be able to lay out big ideological differences with Democrats.
Mr. Ryan, who was the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee but took a pass on this year’s presidential contest, said Republican infighting plays into the hands of President Obama, who exploits those fights to pursue his own agenda.
But Mr. Ryan, just a few months into his new job as the face of House Republicans, is already suffering in the eyes of GOP voters. And the disappointment is particularly high on the presidential campaign trail, where supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump say last year’s spending and tax-cuts deal, which Mr. Ryan oversaw, was a bad start.