Oh my: Paul Ryan opens the door slightly to running for president?

Skip ahead to 8:10 for the money bit. I think HuffPo’s overselling the significance of his “hesitation” here, but keep reading…

On Thursday evening, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan said yet again that he is not considering a run for the GOP presidential nomination. But when asked by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto whether he would change course from past rejections of a presidential bid, Ryan hesitated before saying, “Look, I think I want to see how this field develops.”…

Sources close to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus –- who is also from Wisconsin and is encouraging Ryan to run -– say that it is not just unilateral pressure from Priebus that is sparking rumors. They say Ryan is himself considering making a move

Further, Ryan delivered a speech on foreign policy Thursday night in Washington to the Alexander Hamilton Society, the kind of thing a prospective candidate for president just might do. That drew some raised eyebrows from Stephen Hayes, a Fox News and Weekly Standard contributor.

Writing at the Washington Times, Jeffrey Kuhner dubs him the most formidable challenger to Obama on the political landscape and “a potential presidential candidate whom almost every Republican wants.” We’ll have Patrick Ishmael toss him into the next Hot Air candidate survey to gauge how true that is. I’m not remotely convinced he’d be the juggernaut some think he would be, partly because he’s exposed on his bailout votes, partly because he’d still have to contend with Romney’s fundraising advantage and social conservatives looking elsewhere for a champion, and partly because if support for his Medicare plan doesn’t start to perk up soon, even sympathetic primary voters might regard nominating him as a catastrophe in the making. That last possibility is especially worrisome given the narrative it would set up for the general election, with Medicare reform having already been symbolically repudiated by Republicans in their own primary. Ryan’s budget would be even deader than his future national ambitions, making defeat twice as devastating. He’d have to have near-total confidence that he could win the nomination in order to risk it, and even with Daniels/Barbour and their network behind him, I don’t know how he could have that.

And yet, and yet, given current public impressions of the field, there is plenty of room for someone to jump in and shake it up. If Ryan’s eager to see someone in there as devoted to fiscal discipline as he is, he’s in luck: Supposedly, Chris Christie refused to give that Republican delegation from Iowa a flat no about running during dinner last night. He’s the budget warrior’s choice — now that he’s, er, reimbursed the state for using their helicopter to take him to baseball games.