- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 27, 2021

Former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan plans to lay out his vision for a post-Trump Republican Party on Thursday during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

Mr. Ryan, who retired from Congress in 2018, is expected to launch a full-throated attack against former President Trump and his allies within the party, according to excerpts of the speech.

“Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads,” the former speaker will say. “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.”

A former vice presidential candidate and Tea Party star who engaged in partisan fights with Democrats over spending on Social Security and welfare programs, Mr. Ryan plans to argue for a “healthy, growing and united conservative movement … that speaks again to the heart of a great nation.”

He argued that overreaching by the Biden administration provides an opening for Republicans, if they can seize it.

“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,” Mr. Ryan will say. “For conservatives, this painful existence as the opposition can actually be an opportunity.”

Not all of the former speaker’s remarks regarding Mr. Trump will be negative. Mr. Ryan will pay tribute to some of the former president’s accomplishments.

The majority of the speech, however, will focus on moving the Republican Party past the former president’s influence and the focus on polarizing cultural issues. 

“As the left gets more ‘woke,’ the rest of America is getting weary. … We conservatives have to be careful not to get caught up in every little cultural battle,” Mr. Ryan will say. “They draw attention away from the far more important case we must make to the American people.”

The speech will mark the former speaker’s re-emergence in politics. Since departing Congress, Mr. Ryan has kept a low profile, shunning the public spotlight, while pursuing lucrative business deals in the financial sector.

With Mr. Trump’s loss in 2020, though, Mr. Ryan has signaled a desire to take a larger role in helping craft the GOP’s future. Last week, the former speaker announced he would host a fundraiser for Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an outspoken anti-Trump Republican who is expected to face a strong primary challenge next year.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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