By Russell Berman - 05/23/11 05:47 PM EDT
Count House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as one top Republican who’d like to see Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) jump into the presidential race.
Cantor responded immediately when asked Monday whether Ryan, a rising GOP star and author of the party’s official budget plan, should run for the White House in 2012.
Ryan, who heads up the House Budget Committee, has been the subject of presidential speculation as other prominent Republicans have bowed out of the 2012 race. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced Sunday he was passing on the race, a week after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he would stay on the sidelines.
In an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Ryan repeatedly said he was not running, although he did not rule out a future bid.
While Cantor said the current crop of contenders included “strong candidates,” he made clear that he wanted them to support the Ryan budget, which has become a political lightning rod as Democrats seek to play up a proposed overhaul of Medicare that is unpopular in public polls.
“I’m looking for them to embrace our formula in the Ryan budget,” he said. “I’m looking for them to embrace a leadership role that takes the tough positions.”
Cantor last week denounced former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) for sharply criticizing the GOP budget in an appearance on “Meet the Press.”
The majority leader laughed off a question about whether he would enter the presidential race himself. “Absolutely not,” Cantor said.