Rep. Paul Ryan is discussing the possibility of pursuing the job as House Speaker, a source close to the Wisconsin Republican told ABC News today…

“The fact is, Paul Ryan is the right man right now, he has moderate support and he very clearly has conservative support,” Issa said. “Members of the Freedom Caucus have come to me one after the other saying, ‘Let Paul know we would be with him.’ That’s a very good sign after the strained relations that John Boehner had with that same caucus.”…

“I think at the end of the day, or the end of the week, Paul Ryan will be our speaker presumptive,” Issa told reporters after emerging from the Republican conference on Capitol Hill Friday morning.

After issuing a statement immediately following House majority leader Kevin McCarthy’s withdrawal from the race reiterating that he will not seek the job, multiple sources tell National Review that Ryan is, at the very least, considering a change of heart.

“I’m told he’ll sleep on it,” says a source close to Ryan.

Two additional Republican sources say Ryan has in fact already made up his mind to jump in the race.

One House GOP source says they are hearing Ryan first needs to get his wife on board.

The Wisconsin Republican is getting bombarded with calls and one-on-one appeals from GOP lawmakers, urging him to be the party’s white knight. Boehner has had multiple conversations with the Ways and Means Committee chairman. Even before he dropped his own bid, McCarthy told Ryan he should do it. And the list goes on: House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) spoke to him about it on the House floor, and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) also has pushed Ryan to reconsider…

“He is uniquely gifted and qualified for that position,” South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said, who has also resisted calls to run for a top leadership job. He called Ryan the “smartest kid in the class.”

California Republican Devin Nunes also is pressing Ryan to jump in.

“I think Paul Ryan is the only eligible candidate,” Nunes said.

[I]t does seem like he’s the only person with the gravitas and support to lead this factious bunch. And arguably, the thing that makes Ryan most qualified is the fact that he didn’t want the job…

But it’s probably not even up to him. The future of the House GOP might come down to what Janna Ryan and the Ryan kids decide. Their votes are probably the most important.

Regardless, it’s understandable why Ryan wouldn’t want the gig — which basically amounts to the thankless job of cajoling and babysitting. Ultimately, Paul Ryan will have to decide which group of kids needs a daddy more.

Of course, sometimes children and followers rebel — even against their most benevolent guardians.

Why he says he doesn’t want the speaker’s gavel: The congressman claims that the burdensome schedule, including the demands of traveling the country to raise money, would make it harder for him to spend weekends with his three school-age children living in Janesville, Wisc. That, of course, did not stop him from accepting the job of Mitt Romney’s running-mate when his kids were three years younger than they are now…And it’s not like his current job is a cake walk. He still does quite a lot of dialing for dollars.

What’s really behind this Hamlet act: Taking the job requires that Ryan gamble his political future on his own ability to break the fever gripping House Republicans. Though he’s been in Congress for 17 years, Ryan is only 45-years-old. That means he has another two or three decades on the national stage, if he plays his cards right. Ryan wants to take the lead in writing tax reform with the next Republican White House. He’s also never actually held an elected leadership position, so it’s not clear that he can herd cats; he likes to devise policy, something that’s not really part of the speaker’s job description.

Ryan could still run for president again down the road, whether 2020, 2024 or even 2032. Remember: Bob Dole was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1976, returned to the Senate after losing and didn’t win the GOP nomination until 20 years later. Ryan could also easily become the next Treasury secretary. If he becomes speaker, he puts all of that at risk. He could alienate the right and get deposed. He could be ineffective. And no matter what, he will be more closely identified with Washington dysfunction. It would be impossible to ever run as an “outsider” again.

Let’s say Ryan thinks some more about it but then decides that his initial resistance to being speaker was the right instinct. Given the “take one for the team” mentality that seems to have rapidly cemented around the idea of a Ryan bid and the near-certain prospect of a chaotic race for speaker without Ryan in the race, you can be sure that there will be grumbles within the GOP conference that the Wisconsin congressman really only cares about himself.

That’s totally unfair, of course, since Ryan has been very clear that he did not want to be speaker — under any circumstances. But politics can be an unfair business, and if Ryan says “no” under the current circumstances, there will be those (and it won’t be just a few people either) who forever label him as selfish and not a team player.

And what if Ryan acquiesces to the calls from, well, everywhere, to be speaker? He moves into a job that he doesn’t want — and that might well be impossible, even for someone like him who enjoys a strong reservoir of goodwill among his GOP colleagues, to succeed in. Yes, Ryan might have a bit of a honeymoon period, but he is not exactly out of central casting as a tea party hero, so it’s not too difficult to see the same group that have troubled Boehner eventually doing the same to Ryan.

While top House Republicans are trying to push a reluctant Ryan into the job, on the grounds that he alone can unify the conference, conservative lawmakers gave a decidedly cool response Friday when asked if they want him to be their new leader

[Rep. Tim] Huelskamp … criticized one of Ryan’s major legislative achievements in Congress, the two-year budget agreement he hammered out with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in 2013…

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) declined to weigh in on Ryan as Speaker, noting only that his group had earlier backed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for the job…

“I think that’s more media-driven. I think that’s you guys who keep talking about Paul Ryan,” [Rep. John Fleming] said. “Paul has made it clear he’s not interested.”

Ryan is, to be sure, not a bad guy. But his cult of personality will make it problematic for conservatives should he be Speaker because everyone calls Paul Ryan a conservative and you are a loon if you think otherwise. In other words, House conservatives who might take issue with Ryan in the future will immediately be labeled as fascist totalitarians more willing to set everything on fire than work hard…

For example, Paul Ryan collaborated with Senate Democrat Patty Murray to raise taxes. Republicans then ran to every media outlet to declare it was not a tax increase. It is just a “user fee” because only productive citizens who have to travel for work and families on vacation will pay it…

While in Congress, he voted for No Child Left Behind, the Prescription Drug Benefit, TARP, caps on CEO pay, the AIG bill, the GM bailout, the debt ceiling, and now the fiscal cliff. In fact, Paul Ryan is one of less than a dozen Republican congressmen to have voted for every bailout to come before Congress.

Paul Ryan is a creature of Washington. He worked on Capitol Hill, worked in a think tank, then went back as a congressman. He speaks Washingtonese with the best of them.

[S]everal sources for senior House conservatives tell Breitbart News that Ryan would face the same hurdles as Boehner or McCarthy when it comes to trying to coalesce 218 members behind him on the House floor should he decide to run for the Speakership…

“Paul Ryan is responsible for the House passing bailouts for Wall Street through TARP, with regular folks who are struggling to make ends meet paying the bill,” one senior House GOP aide for an influential conservative member told Breitbart News. “There are a lot of members who have problems with that kind of leadership. It’s Boehner policy with a different face.”

“He’s not conservative,” a senior GOP aide to a different conservative member said of Ryan, noting he probably wouldn’t have a shot at the speakership if he did run.

“It would be tough [to see Ryan get 218 votes],” a third senior GOP aide—this one to a senior House Freedom Caucus member—also told Breitbart News.

“When 72 percent of Republican voters disapprove of the congressional leadership it’s hard to simply promote the next in line,” says one conservative member. “We are in a representative business and it is unsustainable to have the people who do so much work to send Republicans to Congress harbor such dissatisfaction with the party’s leaders.”

On the other hand, among the large majority of House Republicans who aren’t part of the rebel group — that would be about 200 members — there are some who are deeply angry at the conservative firebrands.

“Didn’t Jim DeMint say it very clearly?” asks the GOP strategist, referring to the very conservative former senator. “DeMint said he would rather have 30 true conservatives in the Senate than 60 that don’t really have principles. Of course, with that, you won’t have any say in how the government works. Now, what [the House firebrands] are saying is, forget if we don’t have any say, forget if we can actually do anything, the key thing is to be able to say what we want.”

That’s the fight that caused the McCarthy melodrama.

Nobody thinks Ryan could make the divisions among House Republicans disappear. If he were speaker, some Republicans would still want to engage in budget and debt-ceiling brinkmanship to extract concessions from President Obama, and more of them would think that a foolhardy strategy.

But Ryan is respected by most people on both sides of the divide. Many of the Republicans who were against Boehner and McCarthy would listen to him, and trust him to listen to them. They sometimes disagree with him, but they trust that he is in politics because of conservative ideas. No other House Republican has the same reservoir of goodwill. No other House Republican is considered as good a spokesman on such politically perilous issues as entitlement reform. 

That’s why, with him absent from the race, Republicans have no clear path forward. And it’s why try as he might to rule himself out, Ryan is going to keep hearing calls for him to take a job he does not want.

Now some of you might say, “Hey! He supported Kevin McCarthy for Speaker!” But Ryan has proven he can go toe to toe with President Obama. Yet let us not forget the look on Obama’s face when Ryan explained health care policy to him at the Health Care Summit in February 2010. Obama certainly didn’t forget it. Over a year later, Obama made a point of inviting Ryan to sit in the front row of speech on fiscal policy at George Washington and publicly insulted his budget plan as not being “serious” or “courageous” when he was not in a position to respond although he would make a forceful public statement of his own after the event. It is easy to see why Mitt Romney chose Ryan to be his running mate in 2012.

Although we don’t have a parliamentary system here in the United States, when the party that controls is Congress is different from the party that controls the White House, Congress has to become an official opposition of sorts. If we did have a parliamentary system in this country and Republicans chose a leader of the official opposition, I think Ryan would be best suited to this task. The point here is that Paul Ryan gets under Obama’s skin. If Ryan is elected Speaker and Obama has to face him, more likely than not the President will come out on the short end. Methinks that is an excellent qualification for the position.

What makes Ryan so perfectly suited to bridge this divide is that he perfectly combines ideological extremism with methodological pragmatism. He is a longtime disciple of the teachings of Ayn Rand, whom he has described as the inspiration for his entire political career. He spent the Bush years pushing the administration to adopt much larger and politically explosive proposals to cut taxes for the rich and privatize Social Security than it deemed politically viable. He greeted the Obama agenda not merely as an overreach but as a horrifying socialist dystopia that would usher in the imminent collapse of the economy.

But Ryan has never fallen prey to the illusion that Americans will accept his ideas if only the party declares them loudly enough. The Randian tradition is deeply pessimistic about democracy, dismissing most people as rubes easily manipulated into voting for candidates who will promise to steal from their economic superiors. When Ryan was catapulted in 2010 to the forefront of his party, he recast his public image, presenting himself as a reassuring accountant figure with a pragmatic interest in bipartisan compromise and fiscal probity. Ryan has consistently opposed serious compromise of the party doctrine on taxing the rich and scaling back the welfare state. But he displayed an intense pragmatism. In 2013, facing a revolt by Republican defense hawks against scheduled budget cuts, he negotiated a small compromise measure that relieved some of the budgetary pressure on the Pentagon. He managed to sell this deal to a majority of his caucus. Ryan has always understood that his chance to enact his vision of the state will only come when his party gains full control of government. The insurgent wing understands that his patience is not a delaying tactic.

No other figure within the party combines Ryan’s philosophical radicalism and tactical pragmatism.

An aide to the former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential nominee confirms to NPR that Romney spoke by phone with his running mate from the 2012 race.

While the subject of the call has not been made public, Romney made it clear he did not pressure the man he wanted to be vice president to take the job just below that in the line of presidential succession.

“I wouldn’t presume to tell Paul what to do, but I do know that he is a man of ideas who is driven to see them applied for the public good,” Romney said. “Every politician tries to convince people that they are that kind of leader; almost none are — Paul is. Paul has a driving passion to get America back on a path of growth and opportunity. With Paul, it’s not just words, it’s in his heart and soul.”

While some Democrats expressed glee over the whole debacle on social media, many of the members walking off the House floor on Thursday afternoon simply seemed frustrated and morose about the Republican Party’s crack-up. “I’m just afraid that the Freedom Caucus is going to be really emboldened,” said Representative Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the House Progressive Committee. “They took down a Speaker, then prevented another one.” Grijalva admitted that “it would be tantalizing to watch them twist in the wind,” but said the stakes are too high to enjoy the spectacle: “We’re talking about someone who’s two beats from the presidency.” 

“All their options are terrible,” a Democratic aide told me, summing up the general mood. “The only good option is Ryan and he is too smart to take the job.” He likened the drama to Ned Stark’s doomed fate as the hand of the King on Game of Thrones. Stark doesn’t want to take the job at first, “because that guy always gets his head chopped off,” the aide said. “They persuade him to take the job, and guess what? He gets his head chopped off.”