Paul Ryan: Donald Trump or Ted Cruz would be a ‘far better president than Barack Obama’

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says the country would “absolutely” be better off with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as commander in chief than President Obama.

“I think any one of these men or women running for president in the Republican primary would be a far better president than Barack Obama,” Ryan told Yahoo News’ Katie Couric in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “Absolutely.”

The Wisconsin congressman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee believes Obama’s legacy is one of divisiveness.

“My guess is the way he would look at it is he advanced liberal progressivism farther than anybody since Woodrow Wilson,” Ryan said. “I think he sees himself in that sort of pantheon of progressives. What that means to me as a constitutional conservative is that he has drifted the country away from the Constitution.”

Ryan continued:

We have a Constitution to protect our liberties as citizens — they’re God-given; they’re not government-granted. And I think he subscribes to a different theory, that the Constitution is some living, breathing document that he can shape and move and form. What that philosophy at the end of the day does, in my opinion, is it takes power away from people in this country and gives it to unelected bureaucrats in Washington to micromanage our lives. So I think his philosophy of government — he’s kind of dogmatic about it — is a very condescending, paternalistic and arrogant philosophy which I think takes power away from people. As a result, we’re less prosperous. We’re less safe. We have less upward mobility. We have less prosperity. And I think the anxiety that is palpable in America — and this isn’t just anxiety among Republicans, this is anxiety among all Americans — I think it is a direct result of the polarization that comes with this identity politics, the polarization that comes with having anemic economic growth and having an unsecure national security stance. So that’s, I think, the legacy.

Ryan also dismissed the idea that the Republican party is in disarray.

“Some people think that we’re in a civil war. I don’t think that’s the case. I think we are in the midst of unifying,” Ryan said. “I think with presidential primaries, you’re going to have schisms and skirmishes because that’s what primaries do. They don’t really have a competitive primary on the Democratic side. We have an extremely competitive primary.”

But to be a “true majority party,” the speaker said, the GOP has to offer a clear alternative.

“We have to show people what our principles are and how we apply those principles to the problems of the day to offer people real solutions,” Ryan said. “What I call rebuilding the American idea — this great idea that the condition of your birth doesn’t determine the outcome of your life. You can make it in America. A lot of people don’t believe that that is there for them anymore. That’s a shame. We should be the party to show that we can restore that.”