Both Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called on the Republican Party to focus on reforms benefitting the nation’s middle class.
“The Republican Party can’t make excuses,” Ryan, 42, the former GOP vice presidential candidate, said on Tuesday in his first major speech since he and Mitt Romney lost the presidential election last month.
Rubio, 41, meanwhile, said the GOP needed policies to help “the poor to rise into the middle class – not by making the rich people poorer, but by making poor people richer.”
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Both men, expected to be presidential contenders in 2016, spoke on Tuesday at the Jack Kemp Foundation Dinner in Washington, the New York Times reports. The event honors Kemp, the Republican congressman and 1996 vice-presidential nominee, who died in 2009.
In his remarks, Ryan said that he was “proud” of the former Massachusetts governor but referenced Romney’s secretly recorded “47 percent” comment to wealthy Florida donors that caused much harm to the GOP in this election.
“Both parties tend to divide Americans into ‘our voters’ and ‘their voters,’ ” Ryan said, the Times reports. “Let’s be really clear: Republicans must steer far clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American.”
Rubio concurred and warned of a “growing opportunity gap” among Americans — particularly if the nation’s educational system was not revamped.
“We are trying to prepare 21st-century students using a 20th-century model,” Rubio said, the Times reports. “Now is the time to be creative, innovating and daring in reforming the way we provide our people the skills they need to make it to the middle class.”
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