This makes three top House Republicans who’ve endorsed Ryan in the last two days as a potential uniting force. Yesterday it was Trey Gowdy:

“To me, just speaking as one member, the smartest kid in the class is Paul Ryan,” Gowdy said. “If I had one draft choice and I was starting a new country, I would draft Paul to run it. Not because I agree with him on everything, but because he’s super, super smart. And when someone is super, super smart and is not interested, that tells you something. It tells me a lot.”

This morning, after he’d formally withdrawn from the Speaker race, it was Kevin McCarthy:

It’s not clear who will pick up the pieces. He says, “I personally want Paul Ryan.” There’s been some speculation about the necessity of a bi-partisan coalition to elect a new Speaker, which he rejects. “We’ll find a Republican.”

And now, the Speaker himself joins the parade:

And what if Ryan still says no? Terrible things, my friends. Bret Baier:

Speaker John Boehner has agreed to stay on as Speaker–not just until the Caucus nominates someone –but, until that person can confirm 218 votes on the House floor (needed to take the Speaker’s gavel).  Short of that – Boehner will stay on for the rest of this Congress and steer legislation that is pending.

What does this mean?   Moderates and leadership types are cheering and saying Boehner is the only one they will support.   Conservatives will go ballistic since they know this signals that Boehner will make ALL kinds of deals to get big ticket legislation through the House even if it means using Democrats votes to do it.

Hopefully that’s just a bluff Boehner is using to twist the arms of House conservatives who’d otherwise object to another center-right Speaker. Line up behind Ryan, Boehner is saying, or else I’ll stick around and make your lives even more miserable. What his leverage is in doing that isn’t immediately clear to me; wasn’t the whole reason he quit in the first place because he wasn’t sure he had the votes to survive the challenge being led by Rep. Mark Meadows to oust him? But maybe this little nudge will be enough to convince the Freedom Caucus to give Ryan a shot. Grassroots conservatives might not like that, as Ryan’s lost plenty of goodwill with them from his chumminess with Boehner and his 2013 budget deal with Patty Murray, but he seems to be well respected by most House tea partiers. I bet he’d get to 218 if he ran.

I bet Romney’s leaning on him privately too to answer the call of duty too. Maybe Ryan will compromise and agree to serve but only until through the end of the election, to give the two wings of the party in the House time to reconcile and find a consensus choice. Stay tuned.

Update: And then there were two.

A little more intrigue:

Update: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.