He named Rep. Paul Ryan as one of the new leaders in Congress trying to bring a new approach to government, which involves everything from actually reading bills before voting on them to coming up with an “ambitious” plan to solve the problem of the national debt.

Hayes said virtually everybody in Washington now sees the debt as an urgent problem, but President Obama still doesn’t like to focus on it. “He doesn’t talk about it a lot. He said it’s not a short-term problem.” He said the president’s proposed federal budget, unveiled this week, “won’t solve the problems.” He also said he is bothered by Republican Rep. Greg Walden’s response to the president’s budget proposal, which involved resorting to “demagoguery of the worst order.” And he said other Republican leaders have failed to challenge Walden publicly.

At the end of his speech, Hayes said “In the time I spent speaking, we accumulated approximately $130 million in new debt.”

During a brief Q&A session, Hayes offered some insight into why Mitt Romney lost last year’s presidential election.

He reported extensively on the 2012 election and has interviewed Romney.

When asked why people at Fox incorrectly predicted Romney would win, Hayes said his opinion was that Obama was likely to be re-elected and “I was beaten up a little bit” for it, including by Rush Limbaugh – for an hour.

Hayes said he did not vote for Obama.

“My criticism of the Romney campaign is they didn’t make arguments, they made statements.” He said Romney failed to “prosecute a big case.”

Hayes said a national exit poll asked 25,000 people which presidential candidate “cared most for voters like me?” Obama scored 81 percent on that question, but Romney only scored 18 percent –“a stunning difference. It’s not difficult to explain. Romney, on more than one occasion, in effect said: ‘I don’t care about you’.

“He basically dismissed people are irredeemable. That’s not how we think in this country. I found that offensive as a conservative. I became a conservative because I believed that free markets are what lift people out of poverty.”

Previously Hayes was a CNN commentator and appeared daily with Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” He was part of a CNN team that won a Peabody Award for its coverage of the 2008 elections. His media appearances include “every major television network” and his writing has been featured in many major publications.

Hayes is the author of “Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President” and “The Connection: How al Qaeda’s Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America.”

Before Hayes spoke, Father Bernard O’Connor, president of DeSales, told the audience “This is the largest—or at least one of the largest – gatherings we’ve ever had for the Marcon lecture.”

The lecture series honors the memory of Frank L. Marcon, who served as a DeSales University trustee from 1966 until his death in 1982. Previous speakers include Charlie Rose, Tim Russert, Mark Shields, Ann Compton, Tucker Carlson, Lisa Myers and Larry Kane.