(CNN) — Rep. Paul Ryan called on the Republican Party to unify in a speech Friday, saying it should “give up the infighting” for Lent.
Addressing an Iowa crowd in the pivotal caucus state’s GOP Lincoln Dinner, the potential 2016 presidential candidate said Iowa can do the country a favor in the 2014 midterm election “by delivering another Senate seat and by sending more conservatives to Congress.”
Amid a heated primary battle on the Republican side to fill the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, Ryan called on the Hawkeye State Republicans to coalesce around whoever the party picks in the June primary.
“Let’s give up the infighting. Let’s give up the tunnel vision. Let’s give up the acrimony,” the Wisconsin congressman and 2012 vice presidential nominee said.
“The left loves to say that our party is in this big civil war, that we’re tearing each other apart.”
While there’s a crowded field vying for the GOP nomination, Democratic candidate and state Rep. Bruce Braley faces no serious opposition for his party’s nomination. Braley, however, sparked controversy in the state recently after a video clip showed him warning that a Republican takeover of the Senate could leave the GOP’s Sen. Chuck Grassley — “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” — in charge of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.
At the event, Ryan joked, “Imagine what Chuck Grassley would have done with his life if only he had a law degree.”
The Budget Committee chairman’s keynote address comes one day after the House approved Ryan’s 2015 budget proposal amid protests from some conservatives who argue his plan is not aggressive enough in slashing the size of the federal government.