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‘Nothing has changed:’ Paul Ryan contemplates decision on House speaker’s race

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WASHINGTON --U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan had not changed his mind about running for speaker of the House after a weekend at home in Janesville.

"Before you ask, nothing has changed and I don't anticipate any news this week," Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan, tweeted Monday morning.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

Ryan's answer was a strong "no" last week. After several Republican colleagues urged him to run -- some saying that Ryan was the only man who could get the necessary votes -- Ryan pledged to consider their requests.

Ryan spent the weekend in Janesville as he usually does, away from the crush of Washington with his wife, Janna, and three children ages 10, 12 and 13.

"Being home this weekend for Paul Ryan is probably the decision making moment," said Mordecai Lee, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor. "It's Sunday afternoon, he watched the Packers game, he enjoyed being with his kids. Does he want to be speaker and have to spend weekends in Washington begging members of his conference to vote for something?"

Paul Ryan and family

Paul Ryan and family

Lee compared Ryan to a high school student who is not only popular, but whose classmates want him to run for class president.

"To be well thought of by your equals is the ultimate. I think it's very hard for Paul Ryan to say, 'Thanks but no thanks,'" said Lee, himself a former member of the state Assembly and Senate.

Mordecai Lee

Mordecai Lee

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., dropped out of the race late last week. Ryan had endorsed McCarthy, saying a qualified "empty nester" was better suited for the job.

Other Republicans then said Ryan was the only member of their conference who could get the necessary 218 votes.

"I did everything but carry his gym bag this morning, trying to get him to do it," said U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., before Congress broke for the weekend.

Ryan has risen from a freshman congressman in 1999 to chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, where he can write budget proposals.

"This is why I chose not to run for other things like Senate races in Wisconsin, because I wanted to do the ways and means job," Ryan told CNN earlier this year.

Ryan has said he wasn't interested before. In 2012, he repeatedly told reporters that he was happy in his current role before Mitt Romney picked him as his running mate for his failed White House bid.

Ryan contemplated running for president in the 2016 race, but ruled it out early in the political cycle.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

David Axelrod, a longtime Democratic strategist who led President Barack Obama's two successful presidential campaigns, said Ryan should consider his options.

"He's wise to take time," Axelrod said Monday on Twitter. "This is the last time he'd be holding all the cards."

The speakership has become an increasingly difficult role in modern American politics -- often compared with herding cats -- and is marking the end of current Speaker John Boehner's political career.

Only one speaker has gone on to be elected president -- James K. Polk, in 1844.

Lee says personally and professionally, he doesn't think Ryan will run.

"It would be saying, 'I’m going to answer the call of my party, I’m going to be speaker, maybe I’ll survive for six or eight years, but that’ll probably have to be the end of my career,'" Lee said. "I don’t think he wants to do that."

1 Comment

  • Jim

    If the establishment republicans want him to run, then he will prove no better than the cry-baby Boehner. He doesn’t want to run because he will be exposed for what he really is…A rino.

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