Rep. Paul Ryan says divisions within the Republican Party represent "creative tension" and healthy debate, and blasted "out of touch" Democratic social welfare programs as offering "a full stomach and an empty soul."
In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee the Wisconsin Republican declared "the center of gravity is shifting."
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"Let the other party be the party of personalities," he said. "We want to be the party of ideas."
"It's messy," Ryan — who took the podium soon after Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz — conceded about conservative and tea party factions. "It's noisy. It's a little uncomfortable."
But he found the left lacking, particularly welfare programs food stamps and free school lunches for poor children.
"What the left is offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul." he said. "The American people want more than that."
Relating a story from a member of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's cabinet, Ryan talked about a child who received a government-provided free lunch at school.
But Ryan said the child "didn't want a free lunch — he wanted he own lunch, one in a brown paper bag, just like the other kids," because "he knew a kid with a brown paper bag had someone who cared for him."
"This is what the left does not understand," Ryan said, referencing the Congressional Budget Office's projection that some people will leave the work force voluntarily because of Obamacare.
"People don't just want a life of comfort," he said. "They want a life of dignity, a life of self-determination."
Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, also argued this year's midterm elections will benefit Republicans.
"So, 2012 didn't go as planned," he said. "And last year, it was pretty tough to be optimistic after a loss like that. But now, a year later, I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic: I think the left is exhausted. Our side is energized. And on Election Day, we're going to win."
"And I'm optimistic about our chances because the left — the left isn't just out of ideas," he said. "It's out of touch."
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