Paul Ryan acknowledged “missteps” Sunday in the Republican presidential campaign, as the party struggled to stay on message regarding expectations for Mitt Romney’s upcoming debate performance.
The Republican vice presidential candidate downplayed expectations of Romney’s debate performance, though fellow conservatives insisted the White House challenger would deliver a stellar presentation.
With Romney slipping in the polls ahead of the November 6 vote, the debates with Obama — scheduled for October 3, 16 and 22 — are seen as the last chance to swing the electorate in his favor.
A key Romney “misstep” was dismissing 47 percent of Americans as government-dependent “victims” in a closed-door fundraiser he held for wealthy donors that was caught on tape.
Ryan told “Fox News Sunday” that the comment was “an inarticulate way of describing” how Republicans are trying “to create prosperity and upward mobility, and reduce dependency by getting people off welfare back to work.”
“We’ve had some missteps, but at the end of the day, the choice is really clear and we’re giving people a very clear choice,” he added.
Ryan insisted that no single debate would “make or break” the Republican campaign.
President Barack Obama is “a very gifted speaker,” said Ryan. “The man’s been on the national stage for many years. He’s an experienced debater. He’s done these kinds of debates before. This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of a stage.”
But he expressed confidence his team would win the race.
Senator John McCain — the party’s 2008 presidential candidate — has debated both Romney and Obama.
“Both candidates are well-prepared, and understandably, you’ll see their surrogates lowering expectations,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s part of the whole routine.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a top Romney surrogate, appeared on ABC, NBC and CBS to insist the Republican candidate would deliver a game-changing performance.
“I think what we need is a big and bold performance on Wednesday night. And that’s what he’s going to give us. Got absolute confidence in that,” Christie said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Speaking on CBS television’s “Face the Nation,” he said the first debate, when Romney gets on the same stage as Obama for the first time, would turn the race into a “barn burner.”
“This whole race is going to turn upside down come Thursday morning,” he said.
Top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod pounced on the contradictions.
Christie said the “Debate will turn race ‘upside-down.’ Ryan on Fox: ‘I don’t think any one event is going to make or break this campaign,'” Axelrod tweeted.
White House senior adviser David Plouffe played the traditional role of lowering expectations. Challengers “tend to do really well in debates. That’s been the history,” Plouffe said on “This Week.”
“We believed all along that governor Romney probably has more benefit out of this debate potentially than we do,” he said, adding that “we still believe this is going to be a close race.”
Speaking later on “Meet the Press,” Plouffe said that Christie was “just articulating what governor Romney’s campaign believes: that they’re going to change this race fundamentally.”
Said Plouffe: “They’ve set the bar quite high.”
Here are 7 wild, bizarre and pathetic moments from Trump’s ‘campaign launch’
On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump held a rally that was billed as the official launch his re-election campaign — though he has never really stopped holding campaign rallies.
As expected, the president ranted, lied, and engaged in the raucous attacks that are central to his connection with Republican voters. Some of it was actually just sad, such as his continued obsession with Hillary Clinton.
Here are seven of the wildest, disturbing and pathetic moments from the rally:
1. He said Democrats "want to destroy our country as we know it."
Trump casually accuses Democrats of "want[ing] to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it." pic.twitter.com/4K79KlbEeR
British PM candidates clash over Brexit as Boris Johnson skips debate
Candidates to become Britain's next prime minister clashed over Brexit strategy at their first debate on Sunday but the frontrunner, Boris Johnson, dodged the confrontation.
The 90-minute debate on Channel 4 featured the five remaining candidates and an empty podium for Johnson, the gaffe-prone former foreign secretary and former mayor of London.
In sometimes ill-tempered exchanges, four of the five candidates said they would seek to renegotiate the draft Brexit divorce deal agreed with Brussels even though EU leaders have repeatedly ruled this out.
Michael Cohen ordered back to Congress on March 6
President Donald Trump's so-called "fixer" is being asked to return to Congress for more questioning on March 6.
Outside of the closed-door committee hearing Thursday, Cohen said that the House Intelligence Committee is seeking further information, according to Washington Examiner writer Byron York.
Michael Cohen finished closed-door testimony before House Intel Committee, says he's coming back for another session March 6. Again: No reason for secrecy. Transcripts should be released ASAP.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 28, 2019