Ryan signals run for speakership if GOP unifies
Washington — Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers late Tuesday that he will run for speaker, but only if he emerges by week’s end as their consensus candidate — a bid to impose unity on a disordered and divided House.
Ryan spoke to the House GOP behind closed doors and said if all factions can share his vision and he can get the endorsement of the major caucuses, then he “be all in.”
The 45-year-old Ryan, under intense pressure to seek the post, gave his colleagues until Friday to express their support. The question will be whether he can win over the hardline House Freedom Caucus, which drove the current speaker, John Boehner, to announce his resignation and scared off Boehner’s No. 2, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, had consistently said he does not want to be speaker and would prefer to stay on as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, which he’s described as his dream job.
But he’s been under heavy pressure to reconsider from Boehner and other party leaders who argue he is the only House Republican with the stature and broad popularity to unite a caucus divided against itself, at a moment of deep turmoil.
After the Republicans' meeting, Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said Ryan is plainly reluctant to take on the speakership, in part because of concerns over sacrificing time with his young family.
"It’s really going to be a tough job, but nobody’s better suited for it," Huizenga said.
"Nobody knows policy as well as Paul does. The guy knows this stuff stone cold. And he can communicate it," he added. "Beyond that, he’s been vetted at the highest levels. He knows how to handle the pressure, knows how to find his balance in life."
Congress is hurtling toward an early November deadline to raise the federal borrowing limit or invite a first-ever default, and a deadline to pass spending legislation or risk a government shutdown will follow in early December.
Several members of the fractious Freedom Caucus were unconvinced after hearing from Ryan.
“I think he has to campaign for it. We’ve heard one speech,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. “We’re willing to listen but it’s the beginning of the conversation as far as I’m concerned.”
“Congressman Ryan has said he’s willing to serve” if he can get support from the House Freedom Caucus and other groups, said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Huizenga said he got to know Paul when he first arrived in Washington and regularly worked out with him and a few others.
"I’ve never known anyone more disciplined and focused personally and professionally," Huizenga said. "And I just don’t see anybody in our conference able to pull together a majority of our conference to then carry that onto the floor for 218 votes, other than Paul."
Paul still has to win the endorsement of the conference's major caucuses, some of whom are split on his candidacy.
Huizenga said he's optimistic about Paul's ability to unite the conference, in part because he is part of the younger generation of politicians that understands the need to prioritize communication, both inside and outside of the party — something that Boehner didn't always do.
"That was not Boehner’s style at all. I get that, but expectations have changed," Huizenga said.
.Republican Reps. Candice Miller of Harrison Township and John Moolenaar of Midland indicated late Tuesday that they would support Ryan.
"I support Paul Ryan for Speaker. He's done great work and been a leader of ideas and substance," Moolenaar said in a statement.
"He is willing to serve our country, and I hope more conservatives will continue to unite around him for speaker."
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