“This is going to be an up and down race,” Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, said during an appearance at the last scheduled weekly meeting of House Republicans before Election Day, according to multiple people in the room.
He urged colleagues not to allow Democrats to distract them in the race’s final weeks.
“Here’s our commitment: We are going to make this about the big things,” he said. “We need to go on offense, and we need to give our constituents the choice of two futures.”
Ryan’s visit appeared designed to soothe GOP anxieties about Mitt Romney’s prospects and whether the presidential ticket might become a drag on Republican candidates for the House and the Senate.
Ryan’s comments came as a number of House members, senators and congressional candidates in tough races have taken pains to separate themselves from the GOP presidential ticket, particularly remarks Romney made at a May fundraiser in which he claimed that 47 percent of Americans see themselves as victims and entitled to government handouts, adding that their votes are not worth courting.
“I have my own point of view,” Senate candidate George Allen of Virginia said at a debate Thursday hosted by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, after moderator David Gregory repeatedly asked him whether he shares Romney’s view of those who pay no income tax.
“My point of view is that the people of America still believe in the American dream. And our responsibility as leaders, as public servants, is to make sure that this is a country where everyone has that equal opportunity to compete and succeed and pursue their dreams,” Allen said.
Allen’s careful remarks were notable, given the critical role Virginia is expected to play in the presidential election and in determining whether the GOP picks up the four seats it needs to take control of the Senate.
Former Hawaii governor Linda Lingle has likewise been pressed in recent days to respond to Romney’s remarks in her Senate race against Rep. Mazie K. Hirono (D).
“I am not a rubber stamp for the national party and I am not responsible for the statements of Mitt Romney,” Lingle said Wednesday in an e-mail to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “With that said, I do not agree with his characterization of all individuals who are receiving government assistance. . . . It is not fair to place these individuals into any one category.”
Many of those who have taken pains to note their disagreements with Romney on the issue are running in Democratic-leaning districts and states and must persuade thousands of Obama voters to cross party lines to support their efforts.