Former President Bill Clinton may have left office 13 years ago, but House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan appears to be feeling nostalgic for his handling of budget negotiations.
The former Republican vice presidential nominee was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in his first Sunday morning talk show appearance since the November election. In a wide-ranging interview that ran the gamut from the coming debt ceiling negotiations to the sequester to reminiscing about the 2012 campaign, Ryan shared with host David Gregory a snippet of a conversation he had with former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during last week’s inauguration. In it, Ryan let slip his admiration for the 42nd president, as well as for Clinton’s former chief of staff Erskine Bowles.
“We were talking about personal health. Both of us lost our dads when we were young, and we were just talking. I got concussions when I was young, and Hillary was telling me about hers, and we were just kind of chumming it up,” Ryan laughed.
He continued, “Look, if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles [as] chief of staff of the White House or president of the United States, I think we’d have fixed this fiscal mess by now. That’s not the kind of presidency we’re dealing with right now.”
“You don’t blame conservatives, particularly in the House, for thwarting that effort?” Gregory asked.
“Both parties got us to the mess we are in,” Ryan said. “It’s going to take both parties to solve this problem.”
And — in what’s sure to be a standard-issue question for Ryan for the next four years — Gregory asked, “So how do you think about a 2016 run?”
“I don’t,” Ryan said.