Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is not running for reelection, and lately it's been the talk of Washington. It hasn't been Ryan talking about himself, of course, but he did go on CBS This Morning to give his side of the story — which is why it's worth watching this video of Gayle King and Paul Ryan discussing Ryan's view on one point in particular: increasing diversity in the Republican Party.
During the interview, King mentioned a photo of Ryan along with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and a number of other administration and congressional officials, all smiling and giving Trump's signature thumbs-up sign.
"Very celebratory," King said. "What were you all celebrating?"
"Just the accomplishments we've had heretofore and then the rest of the agenda that we're working on," Ryan responded, before listing what he sees as his party's accomplishments in the areas of infrastructure, health care bills, and other points in their agenda. King, however, wasn't done talking about the photo.
"'Cause, you know, when I look at that picture, Mr. Speaker, I have to say I don't see anybody that looks like me in terms of color or gender," King began, and then went on:
And you were one of the main people that said you want to do more for the Republican Party, to expand. You wanted to expand the base. Some say this president really doesn't want to expand the base. So when I look at that picture, I have to say I don't feel very celebratory. I feel very excluded.
"Well, I— I— I don't like the fact that you feel that way. And we need more minorities, more women in our party," Ryan said in response. He then discussed a candidate whom he recruited into the party and now mentors, Mia Love, who was the first black female Republican elected to Congress, and said that he wasn't done working on this issue.
"That's something I'm going to keep working on. That's something— I'm not going away from life. I'm going to keep being involved and focusing on inclusive, aspirational politics," Ryan said.
This was Ryan's first in-depth interview after his big career news broke, and while King gave Ryan a lot of leeway to discuss his reasons for retiring and the legacy that he feels he's leaving behind, she also didn't shy away from grilling him on a couple of tough topics even besides the issue of diversity in the GOP. According to the transcript of the Ryan interview, one of the first topics she broached was whether "Trump fatigue" played a role in his decision — but Ryan said that he didn't believe that it had.
"I feel like I've actually gotten most done what I wanted to do. So I've been here 20 years in Congress," Ryan told King. "The first issue I focused on, they have even video of me as a congressman-elect, was tax reform."
Ryan and his party did managed to pass a sweeping tax overhaul, which is now expected to be a major factor in a deficit soaring to levels not reached since the immediate aftermath of World War II, the New York Times reported. Ryan also entered Congress — and shot up through its ranks — as a noted deficit hawk, even in his own words. He did not, however, mention that particular likely result of the tax reform in his interview.
Besides the feeling that he'd accomplished what he set out to accomplish, though, Ryan revealed the other reason why he had decided to leave Congress.
"Our kids aren't getting younger," Ryan said. "My kids have only known me their entire lives as a weekend dad."
So, this weekend dad is looking to play more of a weekday role — but he's also made it clear that his work with the Republican Party isn't done.