Ryan on 2016 bid: ‘Count me out’

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday sought to slam the door on a presidential run in 2016, declaring that he will not accept the Republican nomination under any circumstances.

With speculation mounting that he could emerge as a “white knight” nominee at a contested convention in July, Ryan summoned reporters to the Republican National Committee to make an unequivocal statement.

{mosads}“Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept, the Republican nomination,” Ryan said, adding, “Count me out.” 

“We have too much work to do in the House to allow this speculation to swirl or have my motivations questioned.”

Significantly, he sought to head off the possibility of any other outsider candidate coming forward, saying the GOP’s White House nominee should be someone who has campaigned for the office.

“I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee for our party — to be the president — you should actually run for it. I chose not to do this. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period. End of story,” he said.

That would appear to stave off the possibility of a candidate such as Mitt Romney being put on the ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, thus increasing the likelihood that either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, the leaders in the party’s delegate race, will emerge as the nominee in July. Third-place John Kasich remains far behind in the delegate count.

In addition to serving as Speaker, Ryan is chairman of the convention.

“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,” he said. 

But even though he ruled out a presidential bid in 2016, the Speaker made clear that he isn’t receding from the election-year battlefield.

As he has done repeatedly in recent speeches, Ryan said he believes the Republican Party can be an “optimistic” party that wins on the power of its ideas. 

“We want to be a party defined by solutions … by being on the side of the people. We want to take our principles and apply them to the problems of the day,” he said.

“This is a critical role that has to be played, and I am in a position to play it — to prepare for a fall campaign with our nominee that gives a clear and compelling choice to our fellow citizens so we can earn the mandate to get things right … to fix our problems and get our country back on track.” 

Ryan first passed on a presidential campaign last year. At the time, he was in a prime position to run, having served as Romney’s running mate in 2012. 

The primary progressed without him, with more than a dozen Republicans jumping into one of the most unpredictable presidential elections in modern history.

Now, with Trump at risk of falling short of reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination on the convention’s first ballot, the Ryan-for-president talk has roared back to life.

Ryan last month disavowed a group called the Committee to Draft Speaker Ryan for President as misleading and threatened legal repercussions if it continued its efforts. The group disbanded within days. 

His speech to a group of House interns last month calling for more civility in politics only served to fan the flames. The speech was delivered in a presidential setting, with a backdrop of American flags. 

And last week, Ryan’s release of a polished video of the speech — complete with stirring background music — was interpreted by some, including the conservative Drudge Report, as a campaign ad.

Despite denials from Ryan and his aides, some establishment-minded Republicans remained convinced that the once-reluctant Speaker could similarly be persuaded to run for president this cycle.  

The Wisconsin Republican had repeatedly dismissed calls for him to take on the role of Speaker after former Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his retirement from the post last year. 

When asked Tuesday whether his denials of interest in the presidency could be compared to his reluctance to become Speaker, Ryan maintained “that’s apples and oranges,” noting he was already a member of Congress when he ran for the gavel.

Despite publicly rebuking Trump on a number of occasions, including for his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., Ryan has pledged to support whoever becomes the nominee. 

The Speaker made his latest public denial of interest in the presidency on the House’s first day back in session after a nearly three-week spring recess. The media frenzy around his statement overshadowed a looming Friday deadline to pass a budget, which the House is nearly certain to miss. 

Ryan, a former House Budget Committee chairman, has said passing an annual spending blueprint is one of the most basic duties of Congress. 

But divisions among Republicans who want lower spending levels and those who prefer to adhere to last year’s bipartisan budget deal make it unlikely that the GOP-controlled Congress will be able to pass a spending plan this year.

Updated at 8:21 p.m.

Tags Boehner Donald Trump GOP GOP convention John Boehner Paul Ryan Republican Party RNC Ted Cruz
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