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CNN Town Hall With House Speaker Paul Ryan. Aired 9-10:12p ET

Aired July 12, 2016 - 21:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, and welcome to a CNN special town hall. Tonight, your questions for Paul Ryan, the most powerful Republican in Washington, on where his party's heading and how he and other Republicans are coming to terms with a presidential nominee who many critics say is tearing it apart.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: The country is crying out for solutions.

ANNOUNCER: Few in Washington size it up better.

RYAN: The country is crying out to be unified.

ANNOUNCER: Yet few face such challenges. Americans divided. Republicans divided.

RYAN: This election's too important to go into an election at half- strength.

ANNOUNCER: Paul Ryan made the case against Donald Trump, and when it came to endorsing him, he held off.

RYAN: I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now.

ANNOUNCER: But now that he is there, it's sometimes hard to tell.

RYAN: I do think these kinds of comments undercut these things. And I'm not going to even attempt to defend them.

ANNOUNCER: The lawmakers he leads, often unleadable. The House he runs, divided. The country he loves, torn. House Speaker Paul Ryan facing your questions tonight.


TAPPER: Welcome to all of you who are joining us here in the audience in New York and across the country and around the world. We are being simulcast tonight on CNN International, CNN Espanol, CNN Go and SiriusXM Satellite channel 116.

With us in the audience, voters, Republicans mainly, some Democrats, and a few who are not aligned with any party. What they have in common is they want to know more about the Republican Party's plan for solving the country's problems. They also have a few questions about the party's presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

Their questions for Speaker Ryan are their own. We have seen them in advance to make sure they don't overlap. I'll be asking a few questions myself, as well. So let's get right to it and introduce the Republican congressman from Janesville, Wisconsin, and, of course, the current speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.

Speaker Ryan, welcome. RYAN: Hey, thanks for having me, Jake. Good to be with you.


TAPPER: We want to spend as much time tonight as we can with the audience questions, but there are a few items, headlines in the news, that I want to take some time to talk to you about very briefly. First of all, obviously, you were not able to go to Dallas today for the memorial service. We heard from President Obama, President Bush. What would you have said had you spoken?

RYAN: Well, something similar, actually. I think -- I liked their words. I'm glad that both presidents were there. I would have basically taken my mom's advice. You've got two ears and one mouth and use it in that proportion.

The point I would say is, we need to show mutual respect. We need to do more listening. But the first thing I should have -- I would have done is to show our support for law enforcement, to show our support for the men and women who when they leave their families every morning with a badge on their chest, they take their lives at risk -- they put their lives at risk to protect ours. And we have to acknowledge that.

At the same time, I also think it's important that we acknowledge that the fact that there are people in this country who believe that because of their color of their skin, they're not as safe as everybody else. And the fact that people think that and feel that is a problem in this country.

So I think it's very important that we calm down in this country, we start listening to each other, we start talking about solutions. We're already forming a bipartisan group in Congress to do just that, about training, about communities.

And we look at those success stories that are out there in our communities and see if we can replicate that. I was talking to a friend of mine, a black pastor in Somerset, New Jersey, Buster Soaries. He and other black leaders in Somerset have already worked their local police and law enforcement to have an accountability group and to have relationships so that these problems don't occur in the first place.

So that there are great success stories and solutions that are out there already. We need to bring them to Congress, to Washington, to other communities, to learn from this and to replicate it so that we can find solutions. Let's start talking about solutions, and I think we just need to calm down and start our healing process. TAPPER: Let's talk about the state of our union as a nation. President

Obama in Dallas today said, quote, "We are not as divided as we seem." Donald Trump, the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, says, actually, we are divided and it's never been worse. What do you think?

RYAN: Well, I don't know if I'd say it's never been worse. I think all of us as leaders have an obligation to do what we can to unify people in this country.

And we can't just talk unification; we have to act toward unification. I do think our politics have been pretty poisoned. I think our politics have been bad in Washington and around the country and that we are impugning people's motives and that we are saying that if you work with the other side of the aisle, that if you try and reach across the aisle to have a good idea sometime, you are a betrayer, a traitor. And we start impugning each other's motives.

I think we have to go back to making politics about a contest of ideas, start talking about principles and solutions. And I think just doing that can elevate the kind and tone of our debate so we can actually start solving some problems in this country.

TAPPER: It looks as though Donald Trump is going to pick a running mate sometime this week. Obviously, you want to have him pick somebody who is qualified, who could be president if the worst possible thing happened, who has good experience, who has good chemistry, but given all those qualities as a given, what else do you think Donald Trump needs to be looking for when he picks a nominee, in terms of especially whatever policy and political qualities he might need help with?

RYAN: Well, all those things you mentioned, plus I would like a conservative. I would like someone to assure conservatives that the conservative principles will be adhered to and maintained throughout not just the campaign, but throughout his presidency.

So I think making sure that you have someone that is familiar with and has a proven record of being a conservative reformer who understands conservative founding principles and has experience in applying those principles, that to me, it makes the most difference, and that's what I'm actually looking for.

I'm excited about the pick. I've been involved in this before. It's an exciting process for the person about to get picked. I'm excited for whoever that person is going to be, but as far as I'm concerned, all those things you said, experience, can do the job, good chemistry, but someone who is going to advance conservative principles and who has a proven track record of doing that.

TAPPER: That does suggest that you have some concerns about how conservative Donald Trump's root ideology is. Is that fair?

RYAN: Well, I'd say he's new to this and he's been on different sides of different issues, and he has good positions now. And on most things, we have common ground. I just want to make sure that there's going to be consistency. I want to make sure that we're going to have consistent conservatism, and all the more because I want to see our party unify.

If we're going to win this fall, it is because we have unified ourselves. And it's important that we unify ourselves around our principles and then the policies that come from those principles.

TAPPER: In the last few days, under your leadership, the House of Representatives has asked the director of national intelligence to not give classified briefings to Hillary Clinton as all presidential nominees get. He said no to that. The House of Representatives...

RYAN: I got his letter today.

TAPPER: You got his letter today. House Republicans are trying to make that happen legislatively. House Republicans are suggesting there should be an investigation as to whether or not she lied to Congress. House Republicans are suggesting there should be an investigation -- a corruption investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Now, I'm sure House Republicans are all excited about those measures. But to the people in the audience and at home who think, wow, that's a lot, this seems more like trying to undermine the Democratic presidential candidate and less like a hunt for truth, what do you say? How do you convince them that this is on the up-and-up?

RYAN: First of all, the reason we know about any of this I would argue is because of congressional oversight. Second of all, we want to make sure that everyone is treated equally. I believe that she has gotten preferential treatment throughout many -- much of her career in that she believes she's above the law. She holds herself above the law. And I think everybody should be held accountable.

Here's my point. James Comey, when he laid out the laundry list of things that she had done wrong, basically shredding the case that she had been making for herself all year long, then said, after not saying that he was going to press charges or file an indictment, that usually what's in order here where somebody mishandles classified evidence so much, information so much, that there's administrative justice, there's an administrative action that occurs after a person like that.

That means that person who is proven to mishandle such sensitive information should be denied future access to that information. Now, if she gets elected president, it's a different story. But I'm familiar with what she's about to get. I got this as Mitt Romney's running mate. When you come out of the convention, you get the most deeply classified secrets of our government. You get read in to all of our very classified programs. It's a very severe responsibility, a very serious responsibility.

And I would say that any other person that did something like this, a State Department employee, somebody in the military, they would be held to the same standard, which is they would be denied that kind of information.

So I think it goes with saying that we should treat people fairly. No one should be above the rules and no one should be above the law. And that is what we're looking for is equality so that we're holding people to the same set of standards.

And people -- that's the problem with Washington. Everybody thinks there's self-dealing and they think that people are being held to different standards. And the problem is, that's true. And that is what -- that's the basic point we're trying to make.

TAPPER: One last question from the headlines. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told CNN contributor Joan Biskupic that Donald Trump is a faker, has no consistency, and she questioned how he has gotten away with releasing his -- with not releasing his tax returns. She previously told the New York Times that she cannot imagine what the nation would look like under a President Trump.

I know that separation of powers is an important principle to you.

RYAN: Yeah.

TAPPER: How do you as a leader of the legislative branch address a leader of the judicial branch saying this about a potential leader of the executive branch?

RYAN: I find it very peculiar. And I think it's out of place for -- in an appointed branch of government. That shows bias to me. Now, those of us who are in the elected branch of government, who get elected to things, I think that that's -- it's perfectly in the realm. But for someone on the Supreme Court, who is going to be calling balls and strikes in the future, based upon whatever the next president and Congress does, that strikes me as inherently biased and out of the realm. I don't think -- I think that's something that she should not have done because I don't think that that shows that she's -- intends on being impartial in the future.

TAPPER: Well, along those lines, do you think if there is a case -- and certainly Supreme Court cases about candidates and Supreme Court cases about presidential administrations are common...

RYAN: Bush v. Gore.

TAPPER: ... do you think she would need to recuse herself?

RYAN: Let's go to Bush v. Gore in 2000.


RYAN: That was kind of a nail-biter. Remember that one? I think -- that's why I don't think judges should be weighing in on things like this.

TAPPER: Do you think she should recuse herself?

RYAN: Well, let's see what happens in the future. But I don't think she should have done this in the first place. I think it was -- I don't think it was good form. And I don't think it's something that a Supreme Court judge should do, given the fact that they're probably going to be facing some kind of decision in the future, and this clearly calls into question her bias. TAPPER: All right. Speaker Ryan, stay right there. We're going to

take a very quick break. And when we come back, we'll go to the audience and get their questions. This is a CNN town hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Thanks for being here.


TAPPER: We are back. And you're watching a CNN town hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Let's get to the audience for their questions. I'm going to start, Mr. Speaker, with Zachary Marcone. He's a student. And even though he's a Republican, he says he's not supporting Donald Trump. What's your question?

QUESTION: Thank you. Speaker Ryan, I cannot and will not support Donald Trump. And it concerns me when the Republican leadership is supporting somebody who is openly racist and has said Islamophobic statements, wants to shut down our borders. Can you tell me, how can you morally justify your support for this kind of candidate, somebody who could be very destructive to our country?

RYAN: Well, first of all, I'd say a few things. That basically means you're going to help elect Hillary Clinton. And I don't think Hillary Clinton's going to support any of the things that you stand for, if you're a Republican.

So on some of the issues you just mentioned, I felt obligated to speak out when I saw something that was wrong, when I heard something that was wrong, that didn't reflect my views or the views of fellow conservatives and Republicans. So I think it's important, no matter what the circumstances, to speak up for what you believe in.

Having said all of that, I also think that it's important that we put good people on the Supreme Court, that we were just talking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The next person on the Supreme Court will shape this court for probably a generation, you know, almost 25 years. That means, are we going to be faithful to the Constitution or not for a generation? That's point one.

Point two, look at the agenda that we are pursuing. Look at the agenda that we are pursuing in conjunction with our nominee, our presumptive nominee. And I know that that agenda, which I hope they have a chance to talk about, has a much better chance of going into law because I know it won't go in there with Hillary Clinton.

We have got to get people out of welfare and out of poverty. We have got to fix our national security. And, yes, we do have to secure our border. We've got to replace Obamacare. We've got to grow the economy. We've got to get cronyism out of the system. I can go on and on. None of those things Hillary Clinton is going to advance.

She represents a third Obama term. I don't think that's good for America; I think that's the wrong direction. So, yes, things have been said that I, too, disagree with. Then I'll make that point, then, but I'm going to go fight for the principles and these solutions that I believe in. And the candidate that I think is so much more likely to put those into law, because I know Hillary Clinton won't do that.

It's a binary choice. It is either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. You don't get a third option. It's one or the other. And I know where I want to go.

TAPPER: There are people in the audience, actually, who think there are third options, in terms of Gary Johnson and others. But we'll get to that later. I want to right now bring in Peggy Padavano. You just heard from Zachary who is upset that Republican leaders are supporting Donald Trump. And Peggy feels as though Republican leaders are not supportive enough of Donald Trump. She is a real estate paralegal from Staten Island and is supporting Mr. Trump. Peggy?

RYAN: Hi, Peggy.

QUESTION: Hi, how are you? I'm disheartened with you and some of the Republican leadership because you haven't fully gotten behind Donald Trump and his candidacy. I wanted to know when you're going to start advocating for him. After all, you did endorse him.

RYAN: Ten seconds ago. So, that's number one. Number two...


So, look, when I hear something that I think doesn't reflect our values and principles, I'm going to say it no matter what the circumstances are, because I think it's important, if you believe in core principles, you defend those principles no matter what.

And, yes, I did endorse Donald Trump, and the reason I endorsed him is I spent a month walking through our agenda with him, talking about what we in Congress are trying to achieve and why we believe this country's headed in the wrong direction, what our principles are, and how we want to apply those principles.

And I wanted to make sure that he understood where we were trying to go and that we had a willing partner to take us there. And we do. And that is why I endorsed Donald Trump.

Now, the other point I'd make is, to the last young man's point, he won the election. I mean, we are a bottom-up party. We are not a top-down party. He got 14 million votes. No one else got close to that. So he won the primary fair and square. And that is why we want to respect the will of these voters, who are the Republican primary voters who voted for him. And that's why.

TAPPER: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of House Republicans who are not going to go to the convention and who have not endorsed Donald Trump. Do you think that if you were not Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, but just Congressman Paul Ryan, do you think you would have endorsed him?

RYAN: Well, I'm a party leader. And I do believe that I have certain institutional responsibilities as speaker of the House that I think are very important, and it is to help keep our party unified. It is to respect the will of the primary voter who elected him among the other 16 people running.

And so I think it's important. If I had not done that, I believe I would have contributed to basically cutting our party in half and thereby, by default, granting the presidency, giving the presidency to Hillary Clinton. And I couldn't do that.

If I was Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, I would have had less of an impact, but probably the same effect. So I think it's important that we keep our party unified, make sure that we tell people who we are, what we believe in, what our principles are, but we unify and go forward by offering solutions. And that, to me, we have the best chance by having a Republican president to put those solutions in place.

TAPPER: I want to go to Mark Hughes right now. Some of you might recognize Mark from this picture we're showing right behind you, Mr. Speaker. He was at the rally in Dallas last Thursday night, exercising his right as a Texas resident to carry his rifle in public. Police identified him as a suspect falsely, incorrectly. They tweeted his photograph. He turned himself in; he was released. He, of course, had nothing to do with the attack. He is a Democrat, and he has a question for you about gun rights. Sir?

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Here recently, a lone gunman, a U.S. vet, pulled off one of the most horrific attacks on police on American soil in U.S. history, possibly suffered from PSD, or some type of mental illness. What are you going to do to ensure that guns do not fall into the hands of individuals with some type of mental disorder? And what is your plan for vets to come back that has a potential disease for mental illness?

RYAN: Very good question. We just moved legislation last week on this. So this is where I do believe, just as my opening, there is common ground to be had here. We have not reformed our mental health laws in a generation. And mental illness is what we have found in these mass shootings one of the sources of the problems.

So we had a congressman who was a clinical psychologist who spent the last four years, a guy named Tim Murphy, working on revitalizing and revamping our mental illness laws, our mental health laws. We just finished passing that bill. I think it was like 405-7 or something like that. This was a bipartisan product that revamps our mental illness laws, and we also have V.A. issues with this. We passed our opioid bill just the other day to revamp the Veterans Administration, as well.

There are two things I would say. We have got to get early intervention into people with mental illnesses so that we can see these problems before they materialize and have the ability to do something about it. That's point one.

But with respect to vets, we have got to clean up the V.A. I spent a half-hour with the veterans secretary yesterday talking about, how are we going to clean up the V.A. so that the V.A. can specialize on its unique problems, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, prosthetics? There are special things that are unique to veterans that we've got to get the V.A. to focus on.

So the problem is we have this huge waiting list. We had the V.A. bureaucracy sweeping the waiting list under the rug. So we got to clean up the mess at the V.A. We actually put a new program in place to do that. But we've got to get the V.A. to focus on what it's supposed to do that is unique to the V.A., and PTSD I think is a big part of that, so that we can give veterans access to other health care things that are more routine, not veteran specific.

Get the V.A. focused on what they should be doing -- PTSD, prosthetics, TBI, things like that. And that is what we haven't been doing. We've been spreading it too thin. It's not lack of money. We always give the V.A. more money than they even ask for, for veterans health care. It's bureaucracy. It is mismanagement. And that to me is something that's got to get fixed. And we've been working on this quite a bit lately.

TAPPER: Turning to the issue of guns, though, and keeping guns out of the hands of people who have serious problems and should not be able to get guns, do you think Congress has done enough on that front? I'm not talking about keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens who have Second Amendment rights, et cetera, but people who have serious mental health problems, emotional problems, possible ties to terrorist organizations, people that nobody would think should get a gun?

RYAN: Yeah. Right. So no on the mental illness part. That's why we're passing legislation dealing with the mental illness issue, and it's a very important point.

With respect to terrorists, what I think a lot of the solutions that the Democrats have been putting forward, they would not have stopped these shootings. They would not have prevented these things. You have to remember, right now, if you're a criminal, if you're a terrorist, you don't get a gun. The question is people slipping through the cracks.

The FBI right now is alerted when someone on a watch list attempts to buy a gun. And the question is, can we give the FBI the tools they need to be able to do something about that if a person tries to buy a gun that's on a watch list? But you've got to remember one thing. Any bureaucrat can put you on this watch list. You can be placed upon this watch list and can't get off this watch list. Therefore, you have no due process rights.

So it's really important that when we swear our oath to the Constitution as members of Congress that we defend the Constitution. That includes the Second Amendment, but also the Fifth Amendment, our right to due process. So what we don't want to do is pass a law that we know violates a law-abiding citizen's rights, take away their rights without their due process. And that is unfortunately what I think many people are asking Congress to do.

The Senate already defeated it. And that's not what we want to do. So the question is, can we give law enforcement the tools they need to prevent terrorists from getting guns without violating a citizen's rights? The answer is, yes, we can.

TAPPER: I want to go now to Father Michael Duffy. He's currently serving a parish in Farmingdale, New York. He's a registered Republican. He says he is having difficulty coming to terms with supporting Donald Trump. Father?

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, as a Catholic priest, I don't ask somebody for their documentation when they come to ask me for help. One of the things that surprised me is the difficulty in giving people help that are here illegally. What can we do to better meet the basic human needs of the poor in this country, even if they're here illegally, as human beings, despite what Mr. Trump has said on the issue?

RYAN: Well, first of all, thank you. I'm a practicing Catholic myself.


RYAN: And the name Duffy is a very familiar name to me. We have a big Irish community where I live. And St. Kilians is your parish, right?

QUESTION: Yep, right.

RYAN: Right, so I'm sure you deal with this in your own parish duties.

QUESTION: Big time.

RYAN: I'd say a few things. And I have written very extensively about immigration reform. Number one, you have to secure the border. You have to secure the border for many reasons. Enforcing the rule of law, guarding against heroin coming to the border, ISIS from trying to infiltrate our country, and you have to secure the border also so that the public believes that the rule of law is being applied in this country so that they have faith that our government's actually doing its basic responsibility in keeping the country secure.

Then I believe you need to fix this broken immigration system. So once you get this border secured, you've got to fix a broken legal immigration system, which isn't working. It's 20th century. We need to bring it to the 21st century.

I think there are ways of helping people get right with the law that don't involve violating the rule of law or committing something like an amnesty. There are ways of getting people right with the law so that they can earn their place without rewarding people or rewarding people for cutting in line. And that, to me, it's a longer conversation I'm happy to get into. I think there's a way of doing this.

But you cannot even get to that if we have no faith that we actually control who comes and goes in this country, whether we're securing our border or not. And that is the problem. No one has faith that our government is doing its job because in the border, they're not. And that's why I think securing the border is really important. Let me get to the poverty point you mentioned. Please take a look at

our agenda. This is one of the most important reforms that I think we're offering which is a better way to solve poverty, a better way to fight poverty. Go to is where we have released our agenda.

I spent the last four years going around this country visiting with poor communities, learning about the poor and the suffering and better ideas for fighting poverty. We put in a very aggressive plan to go at the root causes of poverty to try and break the cycle of poverty. And I would argue our current approach at the government of fighting poverty treats symptoms of poverty, which perpetuates poverty.

Our welfare system replaces work. It doesn't incentivize work. And as a result, we're trapping people in poverty. It's not working. So we think that there's a better way of reigniting what I call upward mobility, the American idea, and getting people out of poverty.

Please take a look at these ideas. We have lots of them. I'd love to get into it, if you give me time. But this is one of the things that we're talking about. Engaging with our fellow citizens, especially those who have slipped through the cracks, especially those that have no hope, that we have better ideas for helping them get back on their feet and converting our welfare system not into a poverty trap, but a place to get people from welfare to work.

TAPPER: Give me one idea, one poverty idea.

RYAN: Benefit cliffs. Right now, you stack all these welfare programs on top of each other and it basically pays people not to work. So you know who the highest tax rate payer? It's not Anderson Cooper or Jake Tapper. It is the single mom with two kids making maybe -- earning $24,000 who will lose 80 cents on the dollar by taking a job or getting a raise because of all the benefits she loses.

So what happens is, we disincentivize work. We need to taper those benefit cliffs, customize welfare benefits to a person's particular needs, and encourage work. Say you've got -- you've got so much time to get these benefits, you have to have work requirements or job training requirements. Customize benefits to help a person with their problem, whether it's addiction, whether it's education or transportation.

Catholic charities, by the way, is the model that I'm talking about. This is basically the Catholic charities model. Customize support to a person and always make work pay. Make sure that you take the principles that we've used for welfare reform in the '90s, which are no longer really working or in place these days, to get people from welfare to work, and that's the core of what we're proposing.

TAPPER: I just want to get back to his immigration question for one question. And that is, obviously, you support border security, and Mr. Trump wants to build the wall. One other thing he wants to do is he wants to create a deportation force to take away 11 million, 12 million undocumented workers and get them out of this country. If he's president, he will call... RYAN: I don't agree with that. So I've been pretty clear.

TAPPER: But what do -- what do you do? Do you...

RYAN: Yeah, so I don't think rounding up 11 million people, A, is the right thing to do, B, would work, and I don't think you'd like to see what we'd have to do to the country to do that. I think you have to secure the border. I think you have to have reforms that get people to come out of the shadows and get right with the law and get -- and make sure that while you're securing the border, you're fixing what's broken in the legal immigration system.

I think we need to have an immigration system that is wired for what our economy needs. Many people describe our current legal system as chain migration. You can come based on your relations outside of the nuclear family. I think we should give visas based on what the economy needs so that we're making sure that people aren't taking jobs that Americans can take, that Americans can fill.

We've got to get everybody out of welfare into work. And then after we do that, and make sure that every able-bodied person in America has a good job, we're still going to need people in this country, because Baby Boomers are retiring.

So let's find out where those gaps in our labor markets are and have our immigration system wired for that. After we've secured the border, after we've replaced the rule of law, and then those people who need to get right with the law, give them a way to earn their way, through fines, through penalties, learn English, through civics, reapply a policy of assimilation so that they can get a work permit, a work permit to work, but don't give a person the ability to jump in front of line of the person who's been patiently waiting and doing things right.

That to me is more of an approach that works, it makes sense, and it will -- it won't require a roundup or mass deportation, which I just don't think is a good idea.

TAPPER: We have an alternative Republican delegate here. Gina Lavette, she'll be at the convention in Cleveland -- Lovett, I'm sorry, Gina Lovett-- she'll be at the convention in Cleveland next week and she's having trouble supporting the nominee. Gina?

QUESTION: Yes. Speaker Ryan, among the many possibilities that actually happen in the Republican task force in 2013, an alienation of minorities was found to be a glaring liability to the Republican Party. Why as a black woman, Republican, would I continue to support the Republican Party?

RYAN: I'm glad you asked that.

TAPPER: Did you bring copies for everybody?

RYAN: Yeah, go to and get this.

QUESTION: I'll pick it afterwards. RYAN: No, but in total seriousness, please take a look at the principles that we're talking about. Please take a look at the ideas that flow from those principles. What are our principles? They start with the ones that built the country in the first place.

It's -- we're the only country that was ever founded on an idea. It's a beautiful thing. Our rights are natural. They come from nature and nature's God, to quote the Declaration of Independence, meaning our rights are ours as people before our government. And government's job is to protect those rights.

What are those principles? Liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self- determination, upward mobility, opportunity. That is the biggest pole in our big tent party. If you agree with those principles, we want you in our party.

And, oh, by the way, take a look at when we take these principles and apply them to the problems of the day, look at what we're offering. Look at our plan for welfare reform and upward mobility to go at root causes of poverty. Let's define success in the war on poverty by results. Are we actually getting people out of poverty? Not by effort and input, are we spending enough money, do we have enough programs, do we have enough people on these programs?

Take a look at our tax reform. Get the cronyism out of the IRS, get the IRS out of our lives, lower our tax rates. Let you keep more of your own money and do what you want, because it's your money. Take a look at the constitutional reforms.

The big fear I have these days is you and I and all the rest of us are losing control of our own government. It's not accountable to us as people anymore. And the main reason why that is happening is our laws aren't being written by our elected representatives. They're being elected -- and this isn't just Republicans or Democrats. This is what's happened for a long time. It's not just Obama. It was prior presidents, as well, Republicans included.

Unelected bureaucrats are writing our laws, the rules and regulations that I in Congress and no one else in Congress ever votes for. And so as a result of that, we're losing control of our government. It's becoming arrogant and condescending, it's becoming distant and unaccountable.

And the point I keep making is, you shouldn't -- it doesn't mean left or right. You should want to be able to get change when you go to the ballot box. You should want to live under laws that you write through your elected representatives. And unfortunately, that is really less and less the case these days.

So if you believe in having a government that's accountable to you, if you believe in a government that responds to you through your elected representatives -- we call it Article One of the Constitution -- if you believe in welfare to work, if you believe in upward mobility, if you believe in strong national security, if you believe in patient- centered health care, if you believe in equality of opportunity, not having a big government equality of outcome, then please stay with us, because we believe in the American idea.

The condition of your birth does not and should not determine the outcome of your life. That's what's so beautiful about this country. And we're losing that. We're losing that idea. We're losing that vision. And lots of people don't think it's there for them. But we have to reignite that. That's what we're trying to do here.

TAPPER: All right, Mr. Speaker, thanks. We're going to take another short pause. And when we come back, more great questions from the audience.


TAPPER: This is the CNN town hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Mr. Speaker, we're going to go to the audience in just one second, but I want to ask you a question about your speakership. You became speaker because House Speaker John Boehner was essentially chased out of the job by the conservative minority of the Republican caucus, the very conservative minority, the Freedom Caucus.

You've only been speaker for eight and a half months, but you have not been able to pass some of your biggest priorities, including tax reform, a replacement for Obamacare, a budget bill. You're Mr. Budget, you're a former chairman of the Budget Committee. Are you having some of the same problems that Speaker Boehner did with that part of the Republican Party?

RYAN: I think we're doing much better. By the way, those two first things you said, our goal was not to pass a replacement of Obamacare when the guy in the Oval Office is named Obama, or tax reform, because you know what, we know it's not going to go anywhere.

That's why we put -- this is our 2017 agenda. So we basically said here's what we did this year, and this is what I did with our members. Let's go find the common ground where it exists and get those things done.

We passed the biggest highway transportation bill in over a decade since the mid-1990s. We rewrote our export laws to do more trade enforcement. We have the most comprehensive rewrite of K through 12 education reform, devolving power back to the states, getting rid of Common Core, in 25 years. We passed our opioid bill just the other day, our mental health reform the other day. We fixed the problem with Puerto Rico that was really difficult that we wanted to get ahead of.

So we've passed the things where we could find common ground with the Democrats. And then on the things that we knew we wouldn't go through, because we have a liberal progressive president that we don't agree with on the big issues, that's what our agenda is all about.

So our tax reform plan, our Obamacare replacement plan, which is a comprehensive patient-centered health care plan, is what we're putting out there, asking the country permission to put in place in 2017. And what we're asking the country for is: Here are our ideas, these are our solutions, please give us the ability to put this in place in 2017.

These are the kinds of elections I wanted to have in the first place. Mitt Romney and I have talked about this a hundred times. We wished we could have better done a job of giving the country a clear and coherent agenda. And so that's what this represents.

This better way is basically take our principles, apply them to the problems of the day, offer the country solutions, earn a mandate. That's what we are trying to do, because I got to tell you, seven out of ten Americans don't like the direction the country is going. We are among them. And so we feel like we have an opportunity and an obligation to offer a better way, offer an agenda. And that's what this is.

And those things you mentioned, with respect to the budget, we passed a two-year budget deal a year ago so we're in the second year of that two-year budget deal. And that is why we weren't able to pass a new budget, because we're living under the current budget, and now we're writing what we call appropriation bills to that budget.

TAPPER: Only three appropriation bills passed, but let's not...

RYAN: We're still working on it. I just -- they're on the floor right now.

TAPPER: Let's move on to the voters. Heather Tarrant, who is -- she works in compliance and she is a Republican from New York City.

QUESTION: Speaker Ryan, shifting gears a little bit, I guess, thank you for your support of peaceful protesters in your heartfelt statement the other day. You said let justice be done. I wonder, when you hear people shout Black Lives Matter, do you know why we say that?

RYAN: Well, what I'm trying to say and what the statement I tried to make was, let's not harden ourselves into our corners so we stop listening to each other. Let's make sure that we can actually hear what people are saying and understand what their problems are. And I also think we need to be respectful of each other's different views.

And at this moment, when five cops were killed, let's make sure we surround law enforcement with the support that they deserve. Let's make sure -- and by the way, that means you can't blame the shooting on Black Lives Matter and you can't also blame the bad things that a couple cops do on all of the cops. So let's make sure that we're not painting people with a broad brush here. Let's focus on paying respect to the people who are in charge of protecting our communities. And then let's use two ears, one mouth, and listen to the concerns that are out there.

And that's the point I was trying to make before. That's what I made at my speech the other day, which is, there are a lot of people in this country who, because of the color of their skin, do not feel safe. That is a problem that a lot of people feel that way. So let's go figure out what to do about it. What are our solutions? And that's why we're actually putting together just this week a

bipartisan group to look at policing strategies, to look at police training, to learn about what success stories are out there in America so that we can cross-pollinate and share those stories. That's the kind of dialogue that I hope we can elevate this to.

TAPPER: Heather, did he answer your question?

QUESTION: I appreciate the sentiment.

RYAN: You're saying Black Lives Matter because people feel like they're being discriminated against and they're not safe because of the color of their skin. So that's profound. And because people believe that, we have to listen to that, and we have to hear about it, we have to understand it.

And then, instead of just talking, let's go try solving it. That's why -- I was talking to my friend Buster Soaries, a pastor in Somerset, New Jersey, this morning about it. I was talking to Emanuel Cleaver, a great congressman, a leader in the Congressional Black Caucus. I spoke with Hakeem Jeffries and Cedric Richmond and G.K. Butterfield, leaders in the Black Caucus, just in the last few days about, how do we come together to talk about what's going on, what are good practices, where is the common ground and the bipartisanship that we can achieve out of this to try and get something done to make a difference?

QUESTION: Well, we appreciate you listening. So when you hear Black Lives Matter, it's a reminder, just keep listening to the message. Thanks.

RYAN: Point taken.

TAPPER: Donald Trump, a name I have not said in several minutes, you'll give me credit for.

RYAN: You've had like four at least.

TAPPER: At least four minutes -- this evening said that Black Lives Matter is dividing America. You disagree.

RYAN: I just don't think we should be talking about dividing at all. I think we should be talking about unifying. And you've got to understand when some people hear this, they see it as a divisive thing.

Remember, what's the -- what's the comeback everybody says, all lives matter? And that just enrages everybody. So why don't we stop kind of enraging everybody? Why don't we stop saying things that we know, you know, erupt into fights and conflict? And why don't we just kind of calm down? Let's just be peaceful and start listening to each other and have calm conversations about what are truly people's concerns and then let's see where solutions are.

Look, Chief Brown in Dallas, go look at his record. It's a very impressive record of good community policing. It a pretty darned good record of getting along well with the community to make sure that the community takes care of itself. There are great lessons to be had out there and solutions to be gotten. Let's go learn about those things.

And the way I always think in political terms, I'm an old Jack Kemp guy. Jack Kemp was my mentor. I believe we need to be inclusive and aspirational. That means talk to virtues within people, prey not on darker emotions, but prey on what unites us. That means reject identity politics in every way, shape or form.

And I would argue that the left basically perfected identity politics. It's very effective, but it's very divisive, and we on the right should not come anywhere close to it. I believe in inclusive, aspirational politics that speaks to our common humanity, that speaks to the principles that unify us, and that to me is the kind of leadership that people in this country are begging for that we are endeavoring to try and offer.

TAPPER: It's less than a week before the Republican convention, as I don't need to remind you. And it still remains an open question whether the delegates who attend the convention will have to vote based on the primary results in their states or whether they'll be able to vote according to their conscience.

The rules committee meets tomorrow. There is an effort to what is being called unbind the delegates. Let them vote however they want. One of the leaders of that movement, Steve Lonegan is here. He's run for office before as a Republican in New Jersey. He ran the Cruz campaign there. Mr. Lonegan?

RYAN: You're a New Jersey delegate?

QUESTION: No, I'm not. Thank you, Jake, for a great program. Mr. Speaker, as chairman of next week's Republican convention, will you support an open convention in which the delegates who will convene in representation of the entire Republican Party will be free to vote their conscience and nominate the candidate best suited, they believe, to defeat Hillary Clinton and advance a Republican Party's conservative principles?

RYAN: It is not my job as chairman of the convention to tell the delegates how to run their convention. It is my job to take the rules that they write for the convention and make sure that those rules are applied equally, honestly and transparently.

So I make sure that I do not comment, because I won't put my thumb on the scale as to what these delegates do. This is what people kind of misunderstand the Republican Party. The Democrats have this thing called superdelegates, where their elites and their leaders basically run their party in a top-down way. We don't do that. We are a bottom-up, grassroots party, where delegates, who are people duly elected in their primary, in their caucuses, in their districts, from the grassroots, they write the rules.

And they will -- they're meeting this week, and they will decide what those rules are. I have no opinion on what those rules are, because it's their decision. When they write those rules, as chairman, I will make sure that we enforce those rules, whatever those rules are.

TAPPER: Steve, did he answer your question?


RYAN: ... I'm not going to weigh in, I'm not going to tell the delegates what to do.

TAPPER: You're not going to answer the answer is, he's not going to answer your question.


QUESTION: It's a non-answer answer, but I'd just like to remind you...

RYAN: My answer is, no, I'm not going to tell the delegate what to do. It is their decision because they run the party.

QUESTION: I'd just like to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that as a bottom- up party, we have a representative form of government in which the delegates also represent the 75 percent of Republicans who did not vote for Donald Trump.

RYAN: But they ran for delegate -- look, I can speak for Wisconsin. Every state's different. When people ran for delegates in Wisconsin, they ran knowing the Wisconsin delegate rules. The Wisconsin delegate rules is, until the person that you're bound to dips below 33 percent, you are bound to that person.

So when you run for delegate, in whatever state you come from, you run on the terms of the conditions that your state binds or does not bind those delegates. That's a contract. You ran knowing those things. So that's the point I would make for people who ran for delegate. They ran knowing the rules of the road when they did so.

TAPPER: Let's go now to James West. He is from Staten Island. He's a Republican. He has not decided yet whether he will vote for Donald Trump.

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, when you became speaker of the House, you said it was time to wipe the slate clean and for the parties to start working together. But with this election, this country, and even our own party being so divided, do you still think that that's a realistic goal?

RYAN: We're still working on it. I do think it's a realistic goal. I came into a Congress that was fairly bitterly divided. And as you know, it wasn't my plan to become speaker of the House. I was working on poverty and economic growth and Obamacare replacement as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. And I had about six days' notice to take this job. And it became clear to me that if I had not done it, because I was the only one who had the votes to get it, John Boehner, who was my predecessor, would have stayed and Nancy Pelosi would have supplied the bulk of the votes to keep him there. And I believe that that would have ripped our party in half. I think that would have really descended us into chaos. So I came into a situation where it was not a very good situation. And I endeavored to try and get us on the same page. So what we then did immediately as I became speaker was said, we have got to go from being an opposition party to being a proposition party. And unifying on ideas and principles and solutions.

In January, we launched the outlines of our agenda. From January to June, every member of Congress, every Republican in an organic, bottom-up way, in consultation with their constituents, we're to form this agenda so that we can offer the American people a better way, a path forward.

So for the first time in six years, we got consensus on what we would replace Obamacare with. We got consensus on what the new tax system should look like. We came together to figure out how to retool our welfare system, how to rebuild our national security. That to me was unifying. That to me was getting us on the same page, stopping the retribution that was occurring before, getting people to work together, and work toward a common goal of giving the country a clear and legitimate choice in this fall.

We've achieved that. Now we're going out and communicating this choice and talking about our ideas, because we want to give people a real choice, a real path. If you don't like the path we're going on in this country, which I and many people don't, here's a different path. Here's a better way.

And the kind of election we want to win is won by acclimation, where our ideas and reforms are affirmed so that we have an obligation to put them in place. That is wiping the slate clean. That is unifying. And in Congress, in the House, we are unified, and we're putting this together. So I think we've come a long, long ways, in addition to achieving some of the other reforms that I just discussed earlier.

TAPPER: So -- but one of the possibilities is that you will be House Speaker and Hillary Clinton will be president. You were asked yesterday if you could work with her. And you said there's very little common ground between the GOP and the current Democratic Party. Are you saying you're not going to be able to work with her?

RYAN: Well, I'll certainly try. The point I'd say is, this is not the Democratic Party of the mid-1990s. This is not the Democratic Party of budget -- of balancing the budget and welfare reform like we got in 1997.

This is the liberal progressive party of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and, yes, Hillary Clinton. I think Hillary Clinton is a very liberal progressive. They have moved far, far, far to the left. And so in the 1990s, there was a little more overlap between the two parties and more room for common ground. Welfare reform, which was one out of 96 -- 92 programs in 1996, that was good, that was done.

I don't think these parties are like this. This is the party of Obamacare. This is the party of Dodd-Frank. This is the party of unelected bureaucrats, you know, micromanaging our economy and writing the rules and trashing Article One of the Constitution. So I do not see the kind of common ground with the liberal progressives like we've had with the Democrats in the 1990s. I don't like saying this; I wish it weren't the case. But sadly, I think it is.

TAPPER: But don't you think that you have more common ground with her on some issues like, for instance, trade, like, for instance, a lot of foreign policy, than you do with your Republican president?

RYAN: No. No, look, she sounds like Bernie Sanders on trade. She basically says the same thing he does. Donald says he wants trade agreements. He wants good trade agreements. At least he's saying he wants to go out and lead in the world. And on foreign policy, you want to get me started on Hillary Clinton on foreign policy? Let's just say we have a difference of opinion.

TAPPER: All right, fair enough. Mr. Speaker, thanks. We have to take one last break. We've got a few more questions for you. We're going to take a quick break and be right back.


TAPPER: And we're back with House Speaker Paul Ryan. We are down to our last few questions for you, Speaker Ryan. We're going to start with Jason Hill here. He's a commercial banker from New York City. He's a registered Republican. He is supporting Donald Trump, but he says it's only because he would never vote for Hillary Clinton. Jason?

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. Speaker.

RYAN: Hey, Jason, how are you doing?

QUESTION: Very good, thanks. I'm a Republican primarily because I believe in strong fiscal conservatism. Many I talk to agree with Republican policies around economics but refuse to vote for our candidates over perceptions around racism, bigotry, and other issues. As our leader, how do we focus the conversation on the issues like economics and change the perception that paints us as intolerant?

RYAN: That's a good question. I hate the fact that you feel the need to even ask that question, because the principles that we so dearly believe in and behold are those foundational principles that are equality for all before the law. We are all equal in the eyes of God, we are all equal -- whether you believe in God or not. And that is the foundation stone of who we are and what we believe in, in our party.

And what we strive for in our ideas and our principles are to provide for equal opportunities so that people can make the most of their lives. And so what I guess I would say, to people who have different views on different issues, if you take a look at our core of our party that attracts the most people to our party, it is opportunity, it is upward mobility, it is free enterprise, it is freedom, it is self- determination. Those things are what animate our beliefs and our principles. We believe in family, we believe in people, you know, being able to

meet their potential, hard work reaps rewards. Those are the kinds of things that we feel strongly about. And those are inclusive principles. They apply equally to everybody.

So that's why I think -- take a look at -- not maybe some of the harsh rhetoric you see here or there, but look at the actual ideas. Go to and look at those ideas, and you -- and tell me, does that not speak to the problems that you're facing in your life? Does that not offer a solution to help you have a better job, to have a better economic growth, to have a better economy, to have a more secure family, to provide national security and opportunity?

And, oh, by the way, in fiscal, I mean, look, we have done five budgets that show you exactly how to balance the budget and how to pay off the debt. I wrote the first four, which says we know exactly what we need to do to get this budget balanced, to pay off this debt, and, oh, by the way, if we don't start working on this pretty fast, if we blow another presidency and don't get our fiscal house in order, it's going to get really ugly.

And the point I keep saying on this is, that because Baby Boomers are retiring, our fiscal situation gets worse, and we see it coming. It's the most predictable economic catastrophe we've ever had, and we know it's coming. And so the reforms we're talking about, the reforms on health care and the rest, will guarantee that anybody in or near retirement sees no change in their benefits, but those of us who are younger, we have to reform these programs so that we can cash flow them for current seniors and that they'll be there for us and we don't bankrupt the country.

If we don't reform government soon and get our fiscal house in order soon, our debt will take the rest, it will take over, and we will guarantee that we will give the next generation a lower standard of living, a lower quality of life.

And by the way, then when we get around to fixing our fiscal problem, after it's gotten really bad, we'll have to cut benefits for everybody, after people have retired. This social compact is important. Government has made promises to people. And we need to honor those promises. And with our reforms, we can honor those promises and get our fiscal house in order so that your kids and your grandkids get a debt-free future. If we stay on the path we're on, we're not going to have that. And that is why the situation is so dire, and that is why we're doing everything we can to give the country a choice so we can earn the right to put these reforms in place.

TAPPER: Let's bring in Marie Tasy. She serves as the executive director of New Jersey Right to Life right across the bridge there.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. Speaker. Like so many Americans across the nation, I was deeply disappointed when the Supreme Court issued their decision striking down a Texas law that sought to implement commonsense...

RYAN: Absolutely.

QUESTION: ... health and safety standards at abortion clinics. In light of this disastrous decision, what can Congress do to advance the pro-life issue?

RYAN: I agree with that. We have the same law in Wisconsin. Actually, tomorrow we are bringing a bill that I've been working on called the Conscience Protection Act. I'm pro-life. I think you probably know that. And I would like to think we could at least get consensus in this country that taxpayers shouldn't be funding abortions, that the government shouldn't be forcing people to conduct procedures, especially health care workers, against their own conscience.

Our First Amendment is the right of conscience, religious freedom, yet our own government today, particularly in California, is violating that right and not allowing people to protect their conscience rights, whether they're Catholic hospitals or doctors or nurses. Tomorrow we're bringing the Conscience Protection Act to the floor and passing it. It's Diane Black's bill. And it is to give those citizens in America who want to protect their conscience rights their ability to defend those rights. That is one thing we're doing tomorrow to protect the conscience, because I believe we need to cultivate a culture of life. And at the very least, stop the government from violating our conscience rights.

TAPPER: You talked earlier about aspirational politics. I want to introduce you now to Kerry Cahill. Kerry's father, Michael Cahill, was tragically killed in the Fort Hood shooting in 2009, a domestic terrorist attack that killed 13 people. And now this remarkable story, she and the shooter's cousin speak together traveling across the country, talking to students about fighting extremism. She's not registered with a political party. Kerry?

RYAN: So I hear you, and I hear what you have to say. But Donald Trump is proposing a ban on Muslims from entering this country. And you have said that that is not -- that is not what the principles of your party or this country, and I agree with you. How do you explain to the 1.6 billion Muslims that we trade with, that we ally with, that live next door to us, how you endorse a man who has that proposal on his agenda?

RYAN: I disagree with him on it. It's just that simple. Look, no two people agree on everything. Again, let me go back to what I said at the beginning. We have a binary choice: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton.

QUESTION: I disagree on that.

RYAN: I pick Donald Trump. The Libertarian is basically voting for Hillary Clinton. That's just my point. That binary choice.

So when I hear something that I don't agree with, a religious test, that is...

(CROSSTALK) RYAN: I was just defending the First Amendment right of conscience. Same principles, same constitutional amendment. The first one applies to this, as well, which is we do not discriminate against religion. We need a security test on people coming into this country, not a religious test.

So when I see those principles being violated or compromised, whoever is doing it, I'm going to speak out against it. When they're doing it to Catholic nurses and doctors in California, or when a Republican is doing it to Muslims. So to me, it's being consistent in defense of your principles. You know I don't agree with him on that particular policy. But on the other 92 policies, like this agenda and everything else, and on putting good judges on the Supreme Court so we don't have rulings like that on the Supreme Court, in the balance of things, he clearly outweighs -- the good clearly outweighs the things I don't agree with.

That's just the way it works in government, in politics. We don't have people who run for office who 100 percent reflect all of our views. It doesn't work like that. We have to find people who reflect most of our views and whose views are more reflective of our views than the other candidate. That's the kind of decision we're facing right now.

By the way, thank you for doing what you're doing. That is very cool. I mean, seriously, to be able to have the trauma that you and your family went through, which was Islamic terrorism and to have someone -- to have someone in that family work with you to go out and spread awareness and to deal with confronting this, that's a service to your country. So thank you for doing that.

By the way, that's one of the things we're talking about in our agenda, our national security platform, which is, how do we confront the ideology? How do we confront the ideology of jihad? Yeah, I mean, look, I've been -- I met with other heads of state in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Jordan about forming a coalition of governments, of moderate Muslim countries to work on confronting the ideology so the 10-year-old boy in Peshawar, Pakistan, doesn't wake up and go to madrasa being taught jihad.

QUESTION: So a follow-up to that is, there's reports that Trump's rhetoric is being used in ISIS recruitment videos. How do we handle the fact that our representatives of trade and goes to countries for us is -- has basically told leaders of Saudi Arabia they're not allowed to come to this country?

RYAN: I can't speak to the veracity of those claims. I've heard mixed reporting on it. The point is, if there's something I don't agree with, I say I don't agree with it. If there's something I do agree with, I say I agree with it.

QUESTION: Oh, I know that. I agree.

RYAN: Yeah, the point is, on balance, clearly Donald Trump is going to give -- he already gave us a great list of judges to pick from for the Supreme Court, very impressive judges, the kind of people you want to see on the court. So, again, you're not going to have a candidate in probably any election that shares your views on 100 percent of the issues. The question is, where does the balance go? And to me, without a doubt, it is on the Republican side.

TAPPER: One last question from the audience. I do want to say, Kerry...

RYAN: Thank you for doing what you're doing.

TAPPER: ... that we are all so sorry for your loss. And thank you for being here this evening. One last question and that's for Steven Cohen. He's an independent from Nassau County, and he's here tonight with his daughter, Jordan. Steven?

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for taking my question. When you became speaker, you insisted very specifically on carving out time for your children.

RYAN: Say it again, please?

TAPPER: Put that microphone closer.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. You insisted on carving out time for your children when you became speaker. I think that makes you a very positive role model for our generation. What advice would you have for fathers on carving out time with their children, particularly those who don't have as much career flexibility as you do?

RYAN: Yeah, make it your first priority in life. Look, I guess I'm a little more sensitive. I lost my dad when I was a kid, so I grew up wanting a father. I grew up with mentors that took me under their belt. And I can't tell you how many times I've had conversations with people in their 60s, with tough, big, good, strong careers, time- consuming careers, who would always say, boy, I wish I spent more time with my children.

I don't want to be one of those people. And so I was always able to manage in Congress all my weekends, every weekend at home in Wisconsin with my family, and then I'm in D.C. typically four days a week. I think -- if you're raising kids, and they're at this formative stage, in our family, 11, 13, and 14, they only grow up once. And it's just -- you don't want to miss that time. You don't want to have regrets. You want to be a part of their life, especially when, you know, you went wanting like I did when I was young.

And so to me, it was just one of those conditions. In Congress, they sort of expect the speaker to travel nonstop every weekend. I just wasn't going to do that. And so I was not going to fulfill that expectation of this job, if people wanted me to do this job. So I just had to make it very clear.

I didn't try to make a lot of news on it. It was just clear, you can't have my family. You can have, you know, my time when I'm in Washington, but not on the weekends. And I think it's important to have that kind of work-life balance. It's important for families to have that work-life balance, so that families are strong and intact and so that you enjoy life. I mean, that's the most fulfilling part of life is raising a family, at least in my opinion. And so it was just -- it was nonnegotiable for me.

TAPPER: House Speaker Paul Ryan, thank you so much for being here. Thanks to all of you in the audience for all the great questions. And thanks to everyone at home for watching. "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon starts right now.