WASHINGTON — In a speech to be delivered Thursday morning at CPAC, Rep. Paul Ryan will celebrate the "messy and noisy" debate currently consuming the Republican Party, and cast the infighting as a necessary step to shape a fresh conservative agenda for the country.
"The way the Left tells it, the Republican Party is in a civil war," Ryan will say, according to a transcript of the speech obtained by BuzzFeed. "It's Tea Party versus establishment — libertarians versus social conservatives. There's infighting, conflict, backbiting, discord. Look, I'm Irish — that's my idea of a family reunion."
He will go on to compare today's intra-party squabbling to the beginning of the Reagan revolution, when a "battle of ideas" — waged vigorously by Ryan's mentor, Jack Kemp — gave way to a long period of conservative dominance in American politics.
"We're figuring out the best way to apply our principles to the challenges of the day," Ryan will say. "Sure, we have our disagreements. And yes, they can get a little passionate. I like to think of it as 'creative tension.'"
But, he will add, "That's how it always is: You fight it out. You figure out what works. You come together. Then you win. It's messy and noisy and even a little bit uncomfortable. But the center of gravity is shifting. We're not just opposing a president. We're developing an agenda."
The tone and substance of the speech aligns with Ryan's post-2012 efforts to build a "conservative reform agenda" that addresses issues like poverty, education, and infrastructure. Earlier this week, the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs, released a 200-page report critiquing America's 50-year "War on Poverty," and this spring he is expected to introduce new policies to replace the ones he believes are failing.
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.