Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, is warning that his team cannot afford another presidential loss because a 2016 win for the Democrats will cement the liberal, big government direction of the federal government put in place by President Obama.

Working hard with his own agenda to help the Republicans offer programs that the public can get behind, he said that the GOP must both offer an optimistic platform and reach out to potential, non-traditional supporters to beat the Democrats and their nominee, now looking to be Hillary Clinton.

“If we don’t win in 2016, they get the country,” said Ryan referring to progressives and liberals. He explained that the next president will set the “trajectory for the country" for years to come.

Himself an optimist who has good relations with many Democrats, Paul told a group of journalists that the party needs to enter the presidential year with an aggressive and Reaganesque approach and agenda.

He spoke at one of the irregular “Saturday Evening Club” dinners of the American Spectator. The dinners are typically off the record, but Secrets was permitted to use his quotes.

Because he held his own as Mitt Romney’s running mate and was the House leader most responsible for advancing a practical budget plan, Ryan’s influence remains strong in the party. He added to that last week when he unveiled an anti-poverty plan that echoes the Clinton-era welfare reform proposal by offering a hand to the helpless as they get on their feet and back to work — instead of a lifetime of dependency on Uncle Sam.

The Wisconsin Republican said his is an optimistic plan that the GOP can rally around. And it offers a model for other policies that will help America become stronger.

Still, it is not a signal that he is running for the White House, something he is reserving judgement on. “I don’t have to be the guy,” he said.

But, he added, “We have to win. We’ve got to get better answers on this stuff.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at