House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is now being intensively courted for Speaker of House, but will he give in to the wooing?
Ryan wasn’t having it this morning.
“Kevin McCarthy is best person to lead the House, and so I’m disappointed in this decision,” he said in response to the majority leader announcing he won’t run. “Now it is important that we, as a conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and others reportedly got to work quickly on turning that “no” around.
And Boehner also reiterated he’ll stick around until the caucus can decide on his replacement.
“I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker. We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks,” Boehner said. “Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.”
Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who used to head the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN this evening that Ryan started the day as a “no” but is now possibly hovering around “maybe.”
“If he even gets to maybe that will nullify all the other candidates,” Rogers predicted, adding that he believes Ryan is the only one who can unite the GOP factions.
Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), who received 12 votes including his own in the last speaker election, told CNN he won’t drop out of the race if Ryan jumps in.
The only other declared candidate is House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who jumped into the race last weekend after concluding that the math didn’t add up in McCarthy’s favor.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told MSNBC that Ryan, who has canceled his fundraisers for the next couple of days, can get votes as a “very solid conservative” who hasn’t “burned any bridges.”
“Maybe we can persuade Paul. Paul is — again, he ran for vice president, he’s a real conscience of the party. So I would strongly support Paul. I know many people have said that, but I can understand why, if he says he does not want to run, but again I can tell you there’s a lot of support for Paul,” King said.
King added there’s also good support for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who would be the first Native American speaker of the House. But Cole is a strong Boehner ally who generates backlash from the Freedom Caucus wing.
Ryan released the book Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders with McCarthy and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in 2010. Since running unsuccessfully on the Romney presidential ticket in 2012, he’s made the most Capitol Hill headlines for drafting a budget with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Just yesterday Ryan told MSNBC that he thought McCarthy “basically comes from the new generation of young conservative leaders; he’s a very good consensus builder, he’s a very good listener, and I think he has the skills to unite our conference.”
“We are a big conference, a big tent party. And I think he has demonstrated that he has the skills to unite our conference around a common cause and be an effective conservative,” Ryan said.
“There are a lot of conservatives here. What I want as speaker is someone who’s an effective conservative at bringing a positive agenda forward for the country so we can show the country how we would do things differently if we had the ability to get all of these reforms that we want to pass in the law.”
Ryan praised McCarthy’s “consensus-building” and stressed that “if you’re the speaker of the House, that’s one of the top skills that’s required of the job.”
“At the end of the day, we have to keep our eye on the prize. And that is, we need to win 2016, we need to show the country how we would do things different, how we would save the country from the dangerous track it’s on. And that’s the kind of majority, I think, we need to have. And I think that’s the kind of majority Kevin McCarthy can help lead us to,” he said.
McCarthy told reporters today that he changed his mind in the span of a few hours because “I don’t want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes.”
“I think the best thing for our party right now is that you have 247 votes on the floor. If we’re going to be strong, we have to be 100 percent united. And I think, you know what, let’s put the conference first. Because that’s what this is,” McCarthy said.
“I’ve been talking with a number of members. We’ve been thinking about this throughout the week trying to see if we can get there. I just think it’s best we have a new face.”
Said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) after McCarthy’s announcement: “I don’t know why anybody would want the job, frankly.”