WASHINGTON (CNN) — House Speaker Paul Ryan congratulated President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday on his victory, saying he will lead “a unified Republican government.”
“Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard,” Ryan said in remarks delivered in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Ryan was frequently one of Trump’s most high-profile critics in the Republican Party and has found himself on tenuous footing as he seeks re-election to lead the House. But he said Wednesday the results were clear and that Trump “just earned a mandate” from the voters.
More than 70% of voters said the country was headed in the wrong direction, Ryan said, and they picked Trump and the Republicans to alter that course.
“The opportunity is now here, the opportunity is to go big, go bold and do things for the people of this country,” he said.
Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, another Wisconsinite, played a critical role in cracking the fabled “Blue Wall” that Hillary Clinton in the Rust Belt and subtly played up his own role in helping Trump Wednesday morning.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will return as the leader of the Senate after Tuesday’s results, began fielding questions about the most pressing items likely to face lawmakers and Trump as they take control of the government in January.
McConnell, who led a blockade against President Barack Obama’s selection of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, would not say Wednesday how he would react if Senate Democrats used the same strategy against Donald Trump’s pick for the high court.
“The new president will fill the vacancy, I expect it to be handled in the way these court appointments are handled and I would not anticipate any particular strategy the Democrats might employ,” McConnell said.
McConnell, like Ryan, had a frosty relationship with Trump throughout the election would not say Wednesday how he would vote on Trump’s signature border wall if legislation was sent to the Senate.
“I want to try to achieve border security in whatever way is most effective,” McConnell said.
McConnell and Ryan also said repealing Obamacare was in their sights, and would be a top priority for the new Republican-led government.
But McConnell also cautioned that the Democrats’ push for health care and other priorities when they were in a similar situation eight years ago, is what led to them overreaching and, ultimately, a voter backlash beginning in 2010.
“I think overreaching after an election, generally speaking, is a mistake,” McConnell said.