House Speaker Asks Millennials to Help ‘Build a Confident America’

“Only we the people can build a confident America. So, today, I am asking for your help,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told students April 27 at Georgetown University. The town hall event in Gaston Hall was hosted by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service.

Ryan spoke about building a confident America before taking questions from students in the audience and via Twitter.

He began by telling the student crowd that he wanted to make the case for supporting Republicans.

“The America that you want is the America that we want: open, diverse, dynamic. It is what I call a confident America, where the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life — where we tackle our problems together so that all of us can thrive.”

Ryan’s remarks covered student debt, the war on poverty and rehabilitation for criminals, among other issues, examples of the work needing to be done in this country. He urged the students in front of him to step up and get involved: “We need your ideas.”

After his speech, in keeping with the town hall format, Ryan took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves as he prepared to answer questions.

Inevitably, the talk turned to the current election, with one student asking what advice Ryan had for young Republicans who feel they have few desirable options in this race.

Ryan said that, beyond the person, young voters should consider the ideas and the platforms that are being advanced. “In front of you is not just a vote for a person, a political personality. In front of you, if we do our jobs the right way, will be a choice of two paths that you will have to take.”

Ryan also addressed questions about immigration, the Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the difficulties students face in paying for higher education. He said he opposed the Democrats’ solutions to these problems and gave his reasons why. Though he highlighted the need for viable Republican alternatives, he did not always explicitly share those in his answers.

In his response to the question of paying for college, perhaps the issue closest to the hearts of the millennials in the hall, Ryan called for more competition in student lending and among colleges — and the need to have credits more easily transfer. He even commented on his host Georgetown University’s high tuition.

“Not everybody can afford a place like this. So how do we get this kind of an education within reach of people who have no chance of affording it?”

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