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A look back at House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 20-year political career

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Paul Ryan

WASHINGTON -- A major change in Washington. After serving nearly two decades in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan will step down after his term. The announcement was made Wednesday, April 11.

When Ryan was first elected in 1998, he was only 28 years old. With degrees in economics and political science, Ryan had worked for Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Once in office, the Janesville congressman focused on tax reform.

It was late last year that the Republican-controlled Congress, with Ryan as speaker, made that reform a reality.

Paul Ryan

Rick Esenberg

"He was someone who really cared about policy. He cared about the numbers and he was willing to make the difficult argument," said Rick Esenberg, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

One issue of Paul Ryan's that proved difficult was reforming Medicare and Social Security.

"Medicare and Medicaid are health care entitlement programs are the big and primary drivers of our debt. Social Security clearly has an influence in this," said Ryan.

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

Critics responded with a television ad and a Paul Ryan lookalike.

In 2012, Ryan became the vice presidential nominee for candidate Mitt Romney.

In 2015, Congress elected Ryan as the 54th Speaker. Before that, Ryan served as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, as well as the House Budget Committee.

More recently, there was some friction between Ryan and President Donald Trump, during Trump's candidacy -- with Ryan uncomfortable with President Trump's position on tariffs and the president's comments about other nations.

Paul Ryan

Ryan has been controversial for his support of the National Rifle Association, and he has been a target for immigrant rights groups.

After a 20-year career, many doubt that at age 48, that career is over.

"Given Speaker Ryan's relative youth, 2024, yeah we could see him running for president," said Esenberg.

Ryan said Wednesday he has no plans to run for another office, including president, in an interview CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead."

"No plans to run for anything," the Wisconsin Republican said. "And I really don't think I'll change my mind."

Asked if he would seek another public office, Ryan shook his head and said, "Not while my kids are growing up."

"I really don't see it," he said. "I really thought when I took this job, Jake, that this is probably the last elected office I would have. I'm not going to run for president. You know, that's not my plan. I'm not going to do that. I really want to spend time doing the things that I've just discussed doing. I'm always going to advocate for the causes I have, but right now, the last thing I'm thinking about is running for something."

Political experts say they believe Paul Ryan will not give up trying to reform what they call entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Paul Ryan

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