Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) was a panelist Saturday at the Heartland Forum in Iowa, and was the only speaker at the event who hasn’t officially declared candidacy for president.
The event, sponsored by Huffington Post, Open Markets Action, and the Iowa Farmers Union, featured panelists such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro—all of whom have declared candidacy.
Ryan, who said in February that he’s “seriously considering” a run, was asked what his vision for the country would be if he were to do so.
“The stock market’s as high as it’s ever been. Unemployment’s as low as it’s ever been, and yet there is a chronic level of stress in our society today because of chronic uncertainty,” he said. “I think it’s time for a new way of doing things.”
“The only way forward is for us to come together politically. It’s the division today in our country that’s preventing us from getting to where we need to be, and that’s innovating our way out of this thing, caring about each other, loving each other, being concerned about each other, respecting each other, and then building an agenda on that mutual respect and need,” Ryan continued. “That, to me, is what needs to happen in this country.”
Given that the event was in Iowa, Ryan was asked about Rep. Steve King (R-IA-05) and whether the House went far enough in punishing him for his past comments.
“I thought and I offered for him to be censured by the House. I think that is entirely appropriate,” Ryan said. “I think he’s playing along with a lot of the race-baiting that the president participates in, which is I think is totally unnecessary, and insulting, and part of the reason why we’re so divided as a country.”
One audience member asked Ryan what he would do to address gun violence in the country.
“This is obviously a very, very emotional issue, and let me say that we have not done nearly enough in the United States to prevent this from happening,” Ryan responded, and proceeded to provide a list of gun-reform measures he supports.
“I support background checks, I support researching this, I support closing the Charleston loophole, I support keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, or people who are on the terrorist watch list. So all of the comprehensive firearm reforms that are out there I strongly support. And I say that as someone who hunts,” he continued.
He then went on to discuss the “problem” he has with the NRA, noting that he used to “be a supporter.”
“They didn’t even want to come to the table to have a conversation. That’s what infuriated me. How do you watch this on TV and not want to do anything about it?” he said.
Another attendee asked Ryan how he would protect Dreamers and refugees in the country.
“The Dreamer kids are the most amazing kids. When we were having this discussion I had a meeting in my office with 10 or 15 of them, and I was crying, they were crying, I had to send the staff to get more Kleenex, because they epitomize who we want to come to the United States,” he replied, saying Congress needs to “take care of the Dreamer issue” immediately.
“I hope that we as a country can continue to be strong enough to accept refugees coming from war torn or gang run countries, and they seek to come to the United States to save themselves and their daughters from getting sold into the sex trade, or their sons getting sold into gangs. I hope that we are strong enough as a country to be able to accept them and welcome them into the United States,” Ryan went on before taking a shot at President Trump.
“If President Trump would pick up his presidential daily briefing and look at it, and see how we could maybe help solve the problem in these countries before we’re forced to deal with it on our own borders, we would be well ahead of where we are today,” he said, blaming Trump’s “deep cuts to the State Department” for destabilization in other countries.
“When we talk about leadership at the national level let’s talk about how many problems I want my president to solve before I even hear about them,” Ryan concluded. “That’s the president’s job.”
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