If Mitch Daniels created room in the 2012 presidential race for a nationally-known fiscal conservative dedicated to fighting the new Red (Ink) Menace, it won’t be Paul Ryan. Expressing his disappointment over the lost opportunity for a “great addition” to the primary debate, Ryan insisted on subtraction on his behalf. Ryan tells David Gregory that he can do more good for fiscal conservatism from his perch as chair of the House Budget Committee than he can in a dark-horse presidential bid — and that he’s not leaving any doors open or being coy, either (via the Daily Caller):
“Well look – I’ve been very clear about this, about running for president,” Ryan said. “I feel because we are in a big budget debate – I’m in a great position as House Budget chairman to weigh in on this debate and I feel like the moment we are in, I want to stay focused on where we are right now and that is getting our fiscal house in order.”
Gregory asked if Ryan would be open to getting in on the ticket as a running mate and the Wisconsin congressman declined to address that possibility.
“I’m not going to get into all those hypotheticals,” Ryan said. “I’m not running for president. I’m not planning on running for president. If you’re running for president, you got to do a lot of things to line up a candidacy. I’ve not done any of those things. It’s not my plan. My plan is to be a good chairman of the House Budget Committee and fight for the fiscal sanity of this nation.”
Ryan knows that to enter the presidential race is to essentially concede most of the GOP’s momentum on the budget at this point. It would take him out of the debates in Congress while he would have to focus his attention on national organizing and fundraising. He also knows the Quixotic nature of presidential bids from the House of Representatives, regardless of one’s committee assignments. If he wants to aim for higher office, he could have run for the Senate, an effort that would have afforded him a later start and less distraction from his current fight.
It’s both the smart move and the right move, a combination we don’t often see politicians recognize when they appear.