Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., returned to Iowa for the first time Saturday night since the 2012 presidential campaign to test the presidential waters for 2016, according to the Washington Post.
Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, who has mainly kept a low profile lately in Washington, addressed a fundraiser and "Birthday Bash" in honor of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, USA Today reported.
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Iowa helped set candidate Sen. Barack Obama on the road to the White House and also gave him its seven electoral votes against Romney.
In an 18-minute speech that the Washington Post described as part policy discussion and part political autopsy, Ryan said: "The next time you have a famous politician coming through Iowa, breezing through the towns, talking about big government, let's be a little more skeptical.
"As I look back at the campaign, the problem Mitt and I had was that we were arguing against big government in theory. Here's the difference now: We've got big government in practice."
The Democrats now understood, said Ryan, that "you don't shut out the opposition, you don't cram [through] a bad bill, you don't say one thing when you know it's another … then, when it all blows up in your face 'I'm sorry' is just not going to cut it."
Republicans need to offer more than opposition, he said. They need to propose fiscally responsible alternatives, according to USA Today
, that "show who we are and what we believe in."
Ryan acknowledged that losing the 2012 race took a personal toll. "It was tough for all of us. We were in a funk for a good six months. Because we knew the stakes. We knew what we were going to do. We know what we believe. We know what needs to happen to get things done. And it didn't go our way. It's obviously very frustrating."
The Wisconsin congressman told The Des Moines Register
that he is "going to give a hard look" at running for president in 2016. On Saturday, he told his Iowa audience "Maybe we should come back and do this more often. People are really friendly here, I tell you."
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