CEDAR RAPIDS — Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan told an Iowa audience Friday that his party can and must come together, and he held out his recently passed budget plan as a sign of growing GOP unity.
Although blocs of Republicans object to aspects of the plan passed Thursday in the U.S. House, Ryan said it embodies the principles upon which the nation was founded.
"Some people wanted to go further, some people thought it went too far. The point is we unified around these common principles in a plan," the Wisconsin congressman told reporters after headlining a state party dinner in Cedar Rapids. "That's very important to me — which is we can't just oppose, we have to propose."
Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, also played down the significance of his speech in Iowa, home of the leadoff presidential nominating caucuses. He declined to discuss plans beyond the election in November, including whether he would seek the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, in light of Michigan Rep. David Camp's decision to retire after 2014.
"It's just premature to get into all that stuff," he said.
Instead he said during his speech that Republicans must unify behind goals.
"We may disagree from time to time on tactics, but let's put it all in perspective and come together and unify on the task," he said after the speech.
Ryan headlined a fundraiser in Illinois before swinging west to Iowa, and he was headed home to southern Wisconsin after Friday night's event. He was invited to headline the Iowa dinner more than a year ago, and spoke to an audience of about 400. The annual spring dinner typically draws would-be presidential candidates as marquee speakers.
Many GOP officials in Iowa, the state where a Ryan presidential campaign would likely start, praised Ryan's effort drafting the budget, including Gov. Terry Branstad. But they also said it's far from perfect.