WASHINGTON -- If Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has any interest in entering the 2016 presidential field, the bipartisan budget proposal he put forward Tuesday could give him a leg up in the race, said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
The deal Ryan unveiled with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is likely to anger some fiscal conservatives, given that it provides $63 billion in sequestration relief and increases spending by tens of billions to $1.012 trillion next year. Conservatives have pushed to keep the across-the-board sequestration cuts in place without steep reductions in entitlement programs as a trade-off.
But Graham said the proposal from Ryan, who was Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012, is actually a good move if he's eyeing a White House bid in 2016.
"From my point of view, he's showing leadership," the South Carolina conservative told reporters. "I mean, if you want to become president, maybe instead of trying to please every faction of your party, maybe you should show the country as a whole I can actually work with the other side on something important."
Graham added with a laugh, "It's a unique way to become president, but I think it might actually work."
A request for comment from Ryan's spokesman was not immediately returned.
For his part, Ryan made the case why conservatives should get behind the deal he crafted for weeks behind closed doors with Murray. He highlighted that it cuts the deficit by as much as $23 billion, without raising taxes, and makes trims in a "smarter way" than the arbitrary, automatic cuts under sequestration.
"As a conservative, I think this is a step in the right direction," Ryan said, adding that he expects "great support" from his GOP colleagues.