During a sit-down with foreign policy reporters on Thursday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delved into an area usually reserved for presidents and presidential candidates.
He talked mostly about his trip to the Middle East with a group of other congressmen, but took opportunities to attack both President Obama for his weak leadership, and Republican Party presidential front-runner Donald Trump, whose foreign policy proposals he called "unrealistic." According to Politico's account of the on-the-record meeting:
Asked if leaders in the countries he visited last week — Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — had raised qualms about Trump, Ryan said: "Sure, I got it." Ryan said that Arab officials cited his condemnation in December of Trump's call for halting Muslim immigration into the U.S.
"People over there knew about it and thanked me for doing it," Ryan said. "I didn't realize people paid this close attention to it."
Ryan warned against what he described as Trump's call for a "Fortress America" approach to the world. "I don't buy that. The reason I don't buy it is that it's going to come to us ... If we just pull back and think our oceans are going to save us, the evidence of the last couple of decades disproves that theory."
"At the end of the day, what is desperately needed is a strong America," Ryan said.
The Speaker went beyond just offering critiques of others' foreign policies, but offered some insight into his own. Saying he's "not a Neocon," he placed himself in-between the hawkish nation builders in his party and the more isolationist elements on the other extreme.
"We need to be consistent in professing our values," he said. "At the same time, we have to be realistic about how far we can push those values."
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