His lips keep saying no no no, but everyone else around him keeps pressuring Paul Ryan to say yes. The Washington Post’s James Hohmann and Elise Viebeck report that Ryan has reconsidered his earlier demurral and may reluctantly agree to run for Speaker of the House. At the very least, Hohmann and Viebeck point out, Ryan has gone from “no” to “no comment”:
Paul Ryan is seriously considering a bid for House speaker. He’s consulting his wife, Janna, and should make a definitive decision soon, according to top GOP sources.
Despite repeatedly and sincerely insisting he doesn’t want the job, the Wisconsin congressman is under intense and increasing pressure from all corners of the House Republican Conference to assume a position that puts him second in the presidential line of succession.
That includes public support from Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader who shocked Washington by abruptly withdrawing from the speaker’s race yesterday, and private support from John Boehner, who had two long phone conversations with Ryan after the McCarthy bombshell. The current speaker told Ryan that he’s the only person who can now unite the House GOP.
Well, maybe. Had Ryan stepped up immediately, that might have been the case. With the race for Speaker wide open, it may be difficult to get all of the cats herded for a while. A number of candidates began talking up the possibilities for a run, including Darrell Issa, who discussed it on Morning Joe today:
On the other hand, Issa did hold up Ryan as a potential model for Speaker:
SCARBOROUGH: Can somebody like you convince the 2015 of me that you can be in the establishment, but can also speak to what conservatives – small government conservatives – really want, and that is a battle on some of these massive spending bills that always seem to pass?
ISSA: Well, Joe, I want to take a personal liberty for a moment and say that I didn’t serve with Newt, but I did serve with John Shaddegg, and I had the same view. If he told me, “This is a tough, but this is why we’re going to do it,” we did do it. The fact is, yes, I think that I could potentially be a candidate. At the same time, I agree with the vast majority of members, I think. We need a Paul Ryan or we need somebody who is A.) experienced, B.) has been a Committee chairman or something other than just up through the leadership ranks. We very definitely need to pick our fights carefully, but we need somebody who is willing to do those fights, when the time comes, because the motion of our party has been to the right. The new members – the members since 2010 – they’re more conservative. They’re more interested in real fiscal reform. And they’ve been denied by the K Street, if you will, influence the ability to actually get votes that were fiscally responsible. We’ve had some tough votes. The CURE Act. Popular? Sure. We gave away $14 billion with a fake pay-for. We have been dealing with real problems of leadership telling us to do something because it was popular, rather than doing what the American people asked us to do when they swept us back into the majority when we had lost it for good cause.
If Issa offered a backhand endorsement of Ryan, he all but tossed Jason Chaffetz under the bus:
Well, look, Jason’s a good man. An honorable man. But he got his job by going to Boehner and saying he would shut down that rancor that was going on. That he would “go along, get along.” And he’s done that. He put shining pictures of Utah on the wall and he basically stopped doing it. There hasn’t been a single Committee report or staff report published since he’s been chairman. The fact is, he’s a good guy, but whatever he was as a freshman, when he was a fighter on our Committee, when he was trying to hold government accountable, he took a break from that. And I think that’s going to hurt him.
The environment in which this Speaker race has already gotten cutthroat, which may be why Ryan would prefer to stick to his post as Ways and Means chair. However, National Review’s editors also hear that Ryan’s reconsidering, and just needs to convince his wife:
But the former vice-presidential nominee and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee may be changing his mind. 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.
His family lives in Wisconsin, and this gig will involve Ryan spending more time in Washington. That has to be a big negative consideration for Ryan, but the lure of restoring some calm to the House Republican caucus has to have a strong pull as well. If Ryan did jump into the race, it might allow John Boehner to schedule elections soon and get back on track for his retirement — a prospect that would please conservatives in the House, who might otherwise be facing the possibility of a Boehner-led Congress for the rest of the session.