Paul Ryan isn’t running for president. He will not allow his name to be put in for the nomination. And he won’t accept the nomination if, somehow, it gets to that.
On Tuesday, the House speaker went even further, urging delegates to the 2016 convention in Cleveland to limit the pool of potential nominees to the dozen-plus people who waged campaigns over the past year and a half.
“I would encourage [delegates] to put in place a rule that says you can only nominate someone who actually ran for the job,” Ryan said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, which he called to extinguish the presidential speculation once and for all.
Ryan (R-Wis.) took himself out of the running a year ago and has said repeatedly since that he does not want to be nominated. But the doubters persisted, noting that he also swore off running for speaker last fall after John Boehner resigned.
With speculation swirling once again after his weeklong trip to the Middle East, Ryan decided to issue one final denial.
“Let me be clear,” Ryan said, standing in the RNC lobby on Capitol Hill. “I do not want, nor will I accept, the Republican nomination.”
He wasn’t done.
“Let me speak directly to the delegates on this: If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only choose a person who actually participated in the primary. Count me out,” he said. “I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee — to be the president — you should actually run for it. I chose not to. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period.”
Despite his repeated protestations, Ryan has lately been seen as a white knight in waiting if Republicans deadlock on a nominee at a contested convention. His statement Tuesday was his most definitive to date; if it doesn’t quiet the talk that he’s secretly angling to be a savior for his fractured party, nothing will.
His announcement leaves Republicans without perhaps their most viable alternative if no one is able to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to become the nominee in early rounds of voting in Cleveland. Ryan’s popularity with the party establishment, credentials on government spending with the grass roots, and stature as a House speaker and 2012 vice presidential nominee make him a unique figure within the GOP.
At the news conference, Ryan went on to dismiss the theory that he will eventually cave and accept the nomination, bowing to similar pressure he faced during the GOP’s search for a new speaker.
“Apples and oranges,” Ryan said. “Speaker of the House is a far cry from being president of the United States. I was already in the House. I am already a congressman. So I was asked by my colleagues to take a responsibility within Congress that I’ve already been serving in from the one that I had. That is entirely different than getting the nomination for president of the United States by your party without even running for the job.”
Ryan’s role going forward will be twofold. He is working on finalizing a House Republican agenda, which is expected to become public in early June.
“As I’ve talked about before, politics today tends to drift toward personality contests, not policy contests. Insults get more ink than ideas,” Ryan said. “But we still owe it to the country to show what we would do if given a mandate from the people. We have an obligation to give a clear picture — a clear choice. To talk about solutions. That’s why I’ve been giving speeches, that’s why I’ve been communicating a vision for what our party and country can be. And I’m going to continue doing it.”
But Ryan also has a critical role in Cleveland. He’s the chairman of the convention, and will preside over the nomination process. That will give him a firsthand view of the expected messy floor fight.
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