Ryan won't rule out brokered GOP convention

Ryan won't rule out brokered GOP convention
© Greg Nash

BALTIMORE — House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) on Thursday said discussing the possibility of a contested GOP presidential convention is “ridiculous," but he could not say with certainty a brokered convention would not occur.

“How do I know? No one knows the answer to that question,” Ryan said when asked by The Hill whether he was absolutely certain a brokered convention would not take place when Republicans gather this summer to pick their nominee.

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“I think it’s ridiculous to talk about it,” he said.

By virtue of his new leadership post, Ryan is chairman of the Republican National Convention, which kicks off July 18 in Cleveland. 

The Speaker, with just two months on the job, made his remarks while standing next to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the joint House-Senate GOP retreat at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel.

McConnell didn’t weigh in Thursday, but last month, he and Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus attended a dinner where the idea of a brokered convention was discussed. 

Party officials also revisited the topic this week at the RNC’s annual winter meeting in South Carolina, Politico reported.

Increased chatter about a contested convention comes as establishment Republicans search for a way to deny front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE the GOP nomination. Some in the party fear his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric could harm down-ballot candidates if he’s chosen as the party’s standard-bearer. 

A brokered convention is extremely rare; the last one happened more than four decades ago. But Republicans will have to confront that possibility if none of the dozen remaining GOP candidates captures a majority of the 2,470 delegates by July. 

Some of Ryan's House colleagues have suggested Ryan as a possible GOP nominee in the event of a deadlocked convention. But the Speaker has said there’s no chance that would happen.

The 2012 vice presidential nominee, Ryan assured reporters that the party apparatus would support whoever emerges as the nominee, whether that person is Trump or someone else. 

“It’s the Republican primary voter who makes that decision,” Ryan said. "And that’s who we respect.”