A potential Ryan run? Update: Ryan spoke to Boehner about possible presidential bid? Update: Decision in a week or two

posted at 2:35 pm on August 16, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

For a movement that likes to point out the disastrous consequences of Barack Obama’s lack of executive experience, conservatives have a blind spot when it comes to their own.  Take the budding Paul Ryan for President effort, as Stephen Hayes reports that the Wisconsin Congressman has come closer to changing his mind and entering the race:

Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is strongly considering a run for president. Ryan, who has been quietly meeting with political strategists to discuss a bid over the past three months, is on vacation in Colorado discussing a prospective run with his family. Ryan’s concerns about the effects of a presidential campaign – and perhaps a presidency – on his family have been his primary focus as he thinks through his political future. …

Sykes pressed him. “Do you think that it is absolutely essential that there be a Republican candidate who is able to articulate…”

Ryan cut him off. “I do. Because this is how we get our country back. We do it through a referendum letting the country pick the path not by having a committee of 12 people pick the path or not by having just the inertia of just letting the status quo just stumble through by winning a campaign based on dividing people.”

Sykes asked if Ryan understands why people think that person should be him.

“Well, I keep hearing that. I’m hoping that people will step up and I’m hoping that somebody – I can help them fashion this. You know my story and you know my answer – and I haven’t changed it. We’ve got a long way to go. There’s 15 months left.”

Ryan has been talking to friends and advisers about a run since last spring. Those familiar with his thinking say that he expected that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels would run. Hours before Daniels released a letter he’d sent to supporters informing them of his decision not to run, he called Ryan to give him a heads up. That phone call profoundly changed Ryan’s thinking.

One Ryan confidante used an analogy to make the point. Ryan sees running for president like taking a swan dive off a cliff. In the early stages of the race, when he started getting calls urging him to run, Ryan began walking away from the cliff at a brisk pace. Then, when Daniels announced that he was passing on a bid, Ryan stopped in place and turned around. In the weeks since, he’s slowly made his way back to the cliff and he’s now peering over the side trying to decide if he makes the leap.

Ryan’s office denied that he’s looking at a presidential run:

“While grateful for the continued support and encouragement, Chairman Ryan has not changed his mind,” Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert said.

The Weekly Standard, whose editors have been encouraging a Ryan candidacy, quoted an anonymous Republican source saying he was “coming around” and that he currently was on vacation in Colorado mulling over a presidential bid and its effect on his family.

Ryan has previously disavowed any interest in the White House, saying, “My ego isn’t big enough, and my children aren’t old enough.”

I admire and respect Ryan as one of the Republican Party’s deep thinkers and action takers.  His plan to address spiraling liabilities in entitlements was measured, realistic, bold, and comprehensive, even if it didn’t satisfy every conservative concern about continuing deficit spending.  As Budget Chair, Ryan has changed the grounds of the debate on spending in Washington from “should we cut” to “how much should we cut.”

As a Presidential candidate, however, Ryan lacks the background that gives confidence in an ability to handle the executive branch.  Like the other aspirants from the House already in this race, Ryan lacks any executive experience at all, in either the private or public sector.  The fumbles of Obama will allow Republicans to argue that his failed presidency results in part from his inability to handle executive power, but we can’t make that argument at the same time that we’re offering a candidate who has never held executive office in any context at all.  Even Obama would have more experience in that capacity than Ryan, or his House colleagues in the race at the moment.

The US has not elected a member of the House to the Presidency since 1880 for a reason.  We haven’t nominated a candidate from the House in over 100 years for the same reason.  We’ve only had six Senators as President in the last century, two of whom became President through the death of another President (Truman and LBJ), and one who had been Vice President after his Senate career (Nixon).  Americans normally prefer to have an experienced executive as President, and frankly, we’ve usually done better by electing experienced executives rather than legislators to the position.

Ryan is a good man and good conservative, and at 41, has plenty of time to gain the necessary experience for a future presidential run.  He’s ready to fight the battle in the House, but it would be a very difficult argument to make that he’s ready for the Presidency, no matter how much we admire and respect him.  Let him do the job he has, and let’s find a candidate with the right experience and track record to beat Obama in 2012.

Update (AP): According to Roll Call, this is more serious than anyone thought.

The House Budget chairman’s fresh interest in a 2012 White House bid was first reported Tuesday by the Weekly Standard, and the Badger State GOP operative confirmed the conservative political journal’s report in a telephone interview with Roll Call.

In fact, Ryan discussed the matter with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) when the subject of whether he should be appointed to the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction arose, according to [a well-placed Wisconsin Republican operative]…

“Despite a new round of urging and conversations, nothing has changed,” the Wisconsin operative told Roll Call. “People continue to urge Paul Ryan to run — that group is growing, not shrinking. But I am unaware of anything changing his calculus or plan to do that.”

“He’s not intimidated by Rick Perry or anything,” the operative said. “But if he were to do this, it certainly just got harder; it didn’t get easier.”

Lay aside the fact that it’s hard to imagine him winning Iowa, New Hampshire (well, maybe), or South Carolina. Here’s the conundrum of a Ryan candidacy for conservatives: Is raising public awareness about America’s entitlements crisis so desperately urgent that we’re willing to accept a second Obama term in exchange for achieving it? If Ryan’s the nominee, we will at long last have that Very Serious Adult Conversation about Medicare and Social Security under the ultimate media spotlight. And even if Obama’s reelected, the political facts on the ground about entitlements will have changed come 2013 because of it. But the fact remains, decades of public dependency on those programs won’t change over the course of one campaign; a full-bore Democratic Mediscare narrative will assuredly be very, very effective. Which is to say, Ryan will be running at a heavy disadvantage despite Obama’s vulnerability on the economy. How lucky do you feel?

Update: At WaPo, Jen Rubin says she hears Ryan will make a firm decision in the next week or two.

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I can’t imagine that he would get in. I would love to be wrong and maybe, just maybe I am but I don’t see it happening.

MJBrutus on August 16, 2011 at 6:53 PM

Yes, Ryan is great on budgetary issues, but our President needs to address ALL issues, foreign and domestic. He’s a top drawer choice for leading the charge against entitlements, etc., but needs to do that either from his current position or a cabinet position. The nominee, whoever that may be, should embrace him in that role, but he should not be the nominee.

And this idea that Sarah Palin would get behind him as the nominee out of the gate is wishcasting. Her response to an announcement from him would be along the lines of acknowledging he’s a good man, but lacks executive experience — and she’d be right.

SuzyQAZ on August 16, 2011 at 7:39 PM

For a movement that likes to point out the disastrous consequences of Barack Obama’s lack of executive experience, conservatives have a blind spot when it comes to their own. Take the budding Paul Ryan for President effort, as Stephen Hayes reports that the Wisconsin Congressman has come closer to changing his mind and entering the race:

Really? I’m pretty sure that at least some conservatives have held Bachmann’s lack of executive experience against her.

Ryan may want to gain some executive experience in a Republican administration first. It’s not as good as being a governor, but it is definitely executive experience.

didymus on August 16, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Why is Santorum in the debates with only 1% polling.

Get rid of these people.

Spathi on August 16, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Why is Ron Paul in the debates at all?

didymus on August 16, 2011 at 7:51 PM

piglet on August 16, 2011 at 6:05 PM

There’s no arguing with wishful thinking. So I won’t try.

Splashman on August 16, 2011 at 6:15 PM

And this idea that Sarah Palin would get behind him as the nominee out of the gate is wishcasting. Her response to an announcement from him would be along the lines of acknowledging he’s a good man, but lacks executive experience — and she’d be right.

SuzyQAZ on August 16, 2011 at 7:39 PM

Maybe so, but I remember Palin being 100% behind Ryan back when he was presenting his path forward. At that time I thought that she would back him if he ran, but Mitch Daniels was still a possibility and Ryan would have nothing to do with standing in his way. I have always thought that Palin would run for president, but I do believe she will always put the good of the country ahead of her personal agenda. I planned on supporting her and doing all I could to get her elected, but I did not relish explaining the conservative DC insiders’ reservations about her to skeptical independents.

It boils down to who you trust. I trust Ryan to sell his vision. I trust Sarah Palin to put the country ahead of all else. I don’t have a feel for Perry yet in that regard, but I think Romney would rally behind a Ryan as well once his campaign tanked. Bachmann, I can’t say.

piglet on August 16, 2011 at 8:41 PM

I like Ryan and want to hear more.

jatfla on August 16, 2011 at 9:00 PM

The biggest problem with Obama is not that he lacks experience, but that he is so arrogant he can’t acknowledge his shortcomings. He always thinks he is the smartest guy in the room. He has surrounded himself with people just like him–academics who have no real world experience.

I believe Ryan is a man of character. I think he’s smart enough, and humble enough, to know what he doesn’t know. He will surround himself with the right people to fill his knowledge and experience gaps.

He loves the country and respects the Constitution. Obama does not. Ryan will not be looking to “fundamentally transform” America. I believe he–and those he selects to help him govern–will do their best to save it.

If he runs, the only question will be: can the voters still recognize a good man when they see one? If they can, he will win.

Meredith on August 16, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Lay aside the fact that it’s hard to imagine him winning Iowa, New Hampshire (well, maybe), or South Carolina. Here’s the conundrum of a Ryan candidacy for conservatives: Is raising public awareness about America’s entitlements crisis so desperately urgent that we’re willing to accept a second Obama term in exchange for achieving it? If Ryan’s the nominee, we will at long last have that Very Serious Adult Conversation about Medicare and Social Security under the ultimate media spotlight. And even if Obama’s reelected, the political facts on the ground about entitlements will have changed come 2013 because of it. But the fact remains, decades of public dependency on those programs won’t change over the course of one campaign; a full-bore Democratic Mediscare narrative will assuredly be very, very effective. Which is to say, Ryan will be running at a heavy disadvantage despite Obama’s vulnerability on the economy. How lucky do you feel?

What a bunch of horsesh!t. I’m tired of this spineless attitude. Some call it “realist”. I call it cowardly and self-fulfilling. “Conservatives” say things like “I admire and respect Ryan as one of the Republican Party’s deep thinkers and action takers” and that “[h]is plan to address spiraling liabilities in entitlements was measured, realistic, bold, and comprehensive, even if it didn’t satisfy every conservative concern about continuing deficit spending.” But then, “conservatives” explain why he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell in winning, and wonder why no one will back him. Brilliant… And folks wonder why “Rinos” (e.g. your standard Republican) continue to get their names on the Republican ticket?
“Conservatives” talk a big game of principles, but, when it comes to choosing and electing candidates based upon them, they suck.

Send_Me on August 16, 2011 at 11:06 PM

I could be excited about Ryan.

Perry, not really. I’d support him, but wouldn’t be excited.

Same for Bachman and … Romney.

I like Cain, but I don’t see people rallying around him.

Ryan in person seems like a softer-spoken Christie. I like that.

Jewels on August 17, 2011 at 1:01 AM

Ping: Beldar on Ryan’s vulnerabilities.

Beldar on August 21, 2011 at 2:38 AM

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