MILWAUKEE -- The cheers were less raucous than the ones heard in Cleveland, but the crowd was no less interested in hearing from the leading Republican in the U.S. Congress.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) took part in a special dialogue at UW-Milwaukee's School of Continuing Education on Tuesday hosted by WisPolitics.com.
Ryan, who himself is running for reelection, spoke for more than an hour about his caucus' conservative agenda in the coming year, including a looming budget battle over entitlement reform and health care.
"Getting every house republican to join a task force and getting an agenda has been extremely unifying," Ryan told the audience, expressing confidence in the party after former speaker John Boehner's tumultuous exit.
Obviously, though, many questions from the moderator and the audience reverted to the GOP nominee for president, Donald Trump. Ryan, who once delayed his endorsement, highlighted several key differences with Trump in issues regarding foreign policy, immigration, and trade.
"I see NATO as an indispensable ally," Ryan said, clearly rebuking Trump's denouncement of the alliance. "The terrorism is hitting some of the eastern allies. NATO is as important now as it has been in my lifetime."
On immigration, Ryan stayed clear of any discussion on a proposed wall on the U.S./Mexico border, or ban on Muslims. Instead, the Speaker reached out to Muslim Americans to help fight terrorists.
Rep. Ryan reiterated his preference for a Trump victory over the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
"I think it will be easier to work with a Trump-Pence administration," the Speaker explained, before citing a new reason why he thinks Hillary Clinton will not be a good partner in Washington. "This is not Bill Clinton in 1996 with welfare reform, capital gains tax relief and a budget deal. This is the party of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. This is not the centrist or center-left party that it was in the mid-1990s."