MADISON, Wis. — Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan got candid about current events during a sit-down conversation hosted by the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Tuesday night.

Ryan, who is known for his efforts to control government spending, unsurprisingly weighed in on the economy and looming government shutdown, along with several other topics that came up during a conversation moderated by La Follette School Director Susan Webb Yackee.

What You Need To Know

  • Paul Ryan was elected to Congress at 28 years old and represented WI-01 for two decades

  • He served as Speaker of the House from 2015 to 2019

  • Ryan is known for his role in major tax policy proposals and efforts to control government spending

  • He shared his opinion on several issues during an event hosted by the La Follette School at UW-Madison Tuesday night

“There are two people that I really feel sorry for these days—Aaron Rodgers and Kevin McCarthy,” Ryan said. “Kevin will have to endure a motion to vacate vote, and hopefully there’s a bipartisan vote for the sake of the institution to support him. I believe there will be.”

Ryan also shared his take on reaching across the aisle and finding common ground amid a polarized political climate.

“Today, you can just stay in your cocoon, so the advice I give is basically two-fold: get out of your cocoon, spend time with people who do not look or think like you, and do not impugn people’s motives,” Ryan explained.

With all eyes on battleground Wisconsin ahead of next year’s presidential election, the former congressman from Janesville also weighed in on the road to the White House.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan takes questions from La Follette School Director Susan Webb Yackee. (Spectrum News 1/Anthony DaBruzzi)

“The party that puts the first fresh face forward wins this election. If the Democrats somehow swap out Biden, with I don’t know who, they are going to win. If we swap out Trump, something I think is easier to do frankly, we are going to win,” Ryan said.

“We lose with [Trump]. I mean, he won in 2016, and we lost the House because of him in ‘18. We lost [in] ‘20, the presidency, we lost the Senate, then we lost the Senate again in 2022. We lost 10 to 15 seats in 2022 in the House because of him,” Ryan added.

Since Ryan left office, he launched a nonprofit organization in 2019 called the American Idea Foundation, which partners with local groups and academics to promote evidenced-based policies aimed at expanding economic opportunity.

He is also a professor of practice at the University of Notre Dame.