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John Boehner Says He'd Back Paul Ryan for President in Contested Convention

A Boehner spokesman emphasized that the comments were only "hypothetical" in the case that none of the candidates currently running can accrue a majority of delegates.

by Sarah Mimms
Mar 16 2016, 2:30pm

Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Former House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday morning that he would support his replacement, Speaker Paul Ryan, for president in the event of a contested convention.

Boehner, who resigned last year, made the comments while attending a conference in Florida on Wednesday, according to Politico.

"If we don't have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I'm for none of the above," Boehner said, according to the website. "They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I'm for none of the above. I'm for Paul Ryan to be our nominee."

A Boehner spokesman emphasized that the former speaker's comments were "off the cuff" and only applied in the "hypothetical" case that none of the candidates currently running can accrue a majority of delegates before the Cleveland convention in July.

Boehner, from Ohio, currently supports his home state Governor John Kasich for the nomination. Kasich won his first primary last night, taking Ohio's 66 delegates, but still lags far behind frontrunner Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz in the race for the nomination.

A contested or "brokered" convention would occur if none of the Republican candidates reaches the 1,237 delegates required to win the nomination before July and can't pick up the support they need from other delegates at the convention itself. In that case, the nomination contest would go to a second ballot. And if the Republican Party changes its rules, it could allow candidates who didn't even run in the presidential race this year, like Ryan, to win the party's nomination. That's a lot of ifs, but with Cruz and Kasich still in the race and peeling off delegates from Trump, it is possible.

What Is a 'Brokered Convention' Anyway and Can It Stop Trump?

Ryan, who served as Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012, has denied any interest in becoming the party's presidential nominee. But he also said repeatedly last year that he had no desire to be speaker, before stepping up to the job amid chaos in the House GOP and pleas from his fellow Republicans, including Boehner.

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Ryan said that he wasn't even considering the possibility, but wouldn't categorically rule out stepping up to the plate again if asked. "It's funny, but I actually think you should run for president if you want to be president," Ryan said, adding: "I don't see that happening, I'm not thinking about it, so no."

Pressed on whether he'd issue a blanket rejection, Ryan said: "I haven't given any thought to this stuff. People say what about the contested convention? I say, well there are a lot of people running for president, who knows."

Follow Sarah Mimms on Twitter: @SarahMMimms

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Boehner resigned last week.

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