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Paul Ryan rallies area Republicans for 2016 win

Congressman Paul Ryan was a special guest at the Pitkin County Republicans’ annual gathering last night. More than 250 people dined during the Lincoln Day Dinner at the Viceroy Hotel in Snowmass Village. The ballroom swelled with laughter and good-natured teasing among local party representatives. Visiting speaker and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan talked about his connection with the Roaring Fork Valley.

“My mom skied out here in the 1950’s, with the University of Wisconsin,” said Ryan, to cheers from the audience. “I learned as a snow puppy on Highlands at three [years old].” Ryan buttered up the crowd a bit, too, saying “You, Coloradans, you need to know that you’re a special state.” More specifically, because the purple state “very well might decide who the next president’s going to be.”


Ryan has said he doesn't want to be Commander in Chief, but getting a Republican win was a key theme Wednesday night. While taking questions, longtime Aspen resident Candy Strassburger pressed the Wisconsin Congressman on what Republicans can do in Washington, DC before November 2016. “I don’t want to wait til next year. Why isn’t stuff happening now?” she quizzed. “Let give you one quick reason: Barack Obama,” boomed Ryan, but Strassburger wasn’t placated. “I know, but is he that powerful?” she asked, audience members both groaning and whooping. “Let me ask you this… shh!” shot back Ryan, “how many of you believe in the Constitution?” An exasperated Strassburger responded, “All of us!”


Ryan went on to explain that bills passed by Congress still require a president's signature to become law, arguing that President Obama's veto power is to blame for a sluggish Congress. Lawmakers have passed notably few bills in recent years.


Two other areas Ryan focused on were fighting federal agencies about expanding policies he described as liberal, and making sure international trade is favorable for the US.  He maintained US residents will end up rebelling against the recently upheld Affordable Care Act; he also pushed for changing the tax code to make it easier for low income workers.

Afterwards, Glenwood Springs resident Melissa Miller said it was her first time at the annual Pitkin County event. “It was interesting to hear [Ryan] talk about the single mother and what a raise and benefits really gives her,” explained Miller, her daughter Clara standing by. “Because I was that single mother and I lived that."

The two aren't sure yet which of the multitude of Republican candidates they want to vote for in next year’s presidential election. But the Millers are positive the GOP has learned its lesson, to prevent too much infighting leading up to the party nomination. The next year will show whether that’s the case.


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