House Speaker Paul Ryan really does not want to be president. He won't accept the nomination even if it's handed to him on a silver platter at the convention in July. And he has no interest in the job. Seriously.
After months of wild speculation and wishful thinking by political reporters and Republicans concerned about the remaining field of presidential candidates, Ryan held a press conference on Tuesday to announce, once again, that he will not be their white knight.
"I do not want nor will I accept the nomination for our party… I should not be considered period, end of story," Ryan told reporters at the Republican National Committee in Washington on Tuesday.
Republicans in the party's so-called "establishment" wing have been floating rumors for months that if Donald Trump fails to win the nomination on the first ballot, Ryan could be nominated at the convention as a consensus candidate. Ryan is well-liked throughout the party, though far-right conservative groups have lost some love for him since he took over as speaker in October.
But Ryan said Tuesday that not only does he not want to be the party's nominee, but he won't allow his name to placed on the ballot on the convention floor at all. If delegates try to nominate him, he said, he will reject the offer.
Ryan said, as he has several times before, that the next Republican nominee for president should be one of the 17 candidates who ran for the nomination. Ryan said that he could not and would not tell delegates what to do at the convention, but he did offer some advice to those delegates who will re-write the convention's rules. "I would encourage those delegates to put a rule in place that says you can only nominate someone who actually ran for the job," he said.
The new House speaker has been haunted by speculation that he could earn the party's nomination at the Republican convention in July, if the contest goes to a second ballot. His predecessor, former Speaker John Boehner, said Ryan should be the nominee in a contested convention and even on a weeklong trip to the Middle East, Ryan said, "I was asked about it everywhere I went."
The House speaker has long been adamant that he does not want the nomination, but that did little to kill the whispers about an insurgent Ryan campaign, particularly after he gave a speech last month calling for an end to the nastiness of the presidential campaign. It didn't help that the The New York Times ran a story this week that said Ryan will release a new policy platform for the Republican Party just before the convention
In part, speculation around a possible President Ryan continued because he was the party's vice presidential nominee in 2012 and he made incredibly similar statements about his lack of interest in becoming speaker less than a year ago. But when asked if he'd change his mind about the nomination as well, Ryan said the comparison was "apples and oranges".
"Being speaker of the House is a far cry from being President of the United States, specifically, because I was already in the House. I'm already a congressman. … That is entirely different than getting the nomination for President of the United States by your party without even running for the job," he said.
Ryan said Tuesday that there is too much for him to do in the House to mount a presidential campaign (something, he emphasized again, he doesn't want to do anyway). And that the continued rumors about him suddenly waging a presidential campaign are hurting his ability to lead in the House. The policy platform, he said, is an extension of a promise he made when he became speaker to provide, along with his House colleagues, a new set of ideas for the GOP.
Ryan did not mention any of the presidential candidates, current or former, during his brief address on Tuesday. But he criticized the current political landscape as one that "drift[s] toward personality contests" and in which "insults get ink more than ideas."
"That's why I've been giving speeches. That is why I've been communicating a vision for what our party and our country and our country can be. … We can once again be an optimistic party," he said.
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