Paul Ryan For President?

Some Republicans apparently still aren't satisfied with the 2012 field.

One would have thought that the entry of Rick Perry into the Presidential race on Saturday had satisfied, to some extent, the desire among some on the right for different choices in the Presidential race. Apparently, that’s not the case. Today in The Weekly Standard, for example, Stephen Hayes cites sources to support the claim that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is seriously considering entering the race:

Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is strongly considering a run for president. Ryan, who has been quietly meeting with political strategists to discuss a bid over the past three months, is on vacation in Colorado discussing a prospective run with his family. Ryan’s concerns about the effects of a presidential campaign – and perhaps a presidency – on his family have been his primary focus as he thinks through his political future.

“He’s coming around,” says a Republican source close to Ryan, who has been urging the 41-year-old to run.

“With Paul, it’s more about obligation than opportunity,” says another Wisconsin Republican. “He is determined to have the 2012 election be about the big things. If that means he has to run, he’s open to it.”

Ryan seemed to hint that he’s thinking about running in an interview last week with Charlie Sykes, a local radio talk show host in Milwaukee:

“The way I see 2012 – we owe it to the country to let them choose the path they want our country to take. And I just have yet to see a strong and principled articulation of the kind of limited government, opportunity society path that we would provide as an alternative to the Obama cradle to grave welfare state.”

Sykes pressed him. “Do you think that it is absolutely essential that there be a Republican candidate who is able to articulate…”

Ryan cut him off. “I do. Because this is how we get our country back. We do it through a referendum letting the country pick the path not by having a committee of 12 people pick the path or not by having just the inertia of just letting the status quo just stumble through by winning a campaign based on dividing people.”

On top of this speculation, we have the news that Ryan will be running ads defending his budget plan in the Iowa media. Why, some wonder, would a Congressman from Wisconsin be doing that if he wasn’t at least thinking about throwing his hat into the ring?

Republican election guru Karl Rove added to the speculation last night when he put Ryan’s name on a list of people who he said are still thinking about running for President:

“We’ve got a good field. I don’t think it is the end, though, of the field. I think we are likely to see several other candidates think seriously about getting in. And frankly, they have time to do so. November 22 is the first deadline to file papers to get on the ballot. That’s the last day somebody could get in without starting to lose a place in some of the early primaries and caucuses. I suspect we are likely to see in early September and late August. …

“I think Palin … is gonna look seriously at it. I don’t know if any of these are gonna actually get in, but I think the nature of the field and the fact that we’ve now got three candidates when we could have had four or five or six major candidates, is gonna lead people to say, well I could be in that contest. Palin has got a pretty active schedule in early September”

“I think Chris Christie and Paul Ryan are gonna look at it again … I’m starting to pick up some sort of vibrations that these kind of conversations are causing Christie and Ryan to tell the people who are calling them, you know what, I owe it to you, I’ll take a look at it.”

I think Palin is making it pretty clear by her activities that she isn’t running. The bus tour of the Mid-West that brought her to the Iowa State Fair on Friday has been abruptly halted after four days, and Palin is back in Alaska. Moreover, as I’ve noted before and as the head of the Iowa GOP stated more than once over the weekend, she’s done absolutely nothing to build a campaign organization in the Hawkeye State or anywhere else. The same goes for Christie, who has said more than once that he not only isn’t running for President, but that he isn’t ready to be President. As for Ryan, he’s sending signals, but I’d be honestly surprised if he ran. A Congressional District in Wisconsin is hardly the base from which to build a Presidential Campaign at this late date, even if you are the head of the House Budget Committee and very well known. Frankly, I’d be pretty surprised if Ryan threw his hate into the ring at this point.

Moreover, notwithstanding Hayes’s report and Ryan’s comments on the radio, it doesn’t appear that the Congressman has changed his mind. Greg Sargent did something that Hayes apparently didn’t think to do, he called Ryan’s spokesman:

I asked Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert for comment, and he emailed:

“While grateful for the continued support and encouragement, Congressman Ryan has not changed his mind.”

That’s a reaffirmation of Ryan’s recent appearance on Meet the Press, in which he said: “I’ve been very clear about this. I’m not running for president…You never know what opportunities present themselves way down the road. I’m not talking about right now.” The denial today from Ryan’s spokesman is not the most forceful one we’ve ever heard, so perhaps there’s still room for the dream to persist.

Some conservatives, meanwhile, think that it would be best if Ryan stayed out of the race:

There would be downsides to a Ryan presidential run. First, the field is already full and he has no obvious path to the nomination. Would he automatically leap to frontrunner status in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina? Fairly or not, a failed Ryan campaign would, like the NY-26 race, be used to discredit entitlement reform and could well make a Republican president less likely to touch the third rail.

Second, Ryan’s credibility as a fiscal conservative will be tarnished. He voted for TARP. He not only voted for but was instrumental in passing Medicare Part D. He uses Medicare Part D as an example of how to bring health care costs down (I don’t actually disagree with him on this point, even though I opposed Medicare Part D, but the finer distinctions will be lost in the political debate). He has been an advocate for spending agreements that have been criticized by Tea Party activists and supported a debt deal the entire GOP field save Jon Huntsman opposed. He is running against Republicans — Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann​, Ron Paul​ — who will not hesitate to point all of this out.

Given that Ryan is not likely to win the nomination and that, even if he did, he’d merely be setting up a General Election where the Democrats could demagogue him on entitlement reform, this advice seems to be well-taken.

Update: Via Roll Call comes a report that seems to indicate that this Ryan flirtation is more serious than I initially thought:

The House Budget chairman’s fresh interest in a 2012 White House bid was first reported Tuesday by the Weekly Standard, and the Badger State GOP operative confirmed the conservative political journal’s report in a telephone interview with Roll Call.

In fact, Ryan discussed the matter with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) when the subject of whether he should be appointed to the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction arose, according to this source.

But the GOP operative cautioned that Ryan was still leaning against running for president for the same reason he has eschewed a major leadership position within the House Republican Conference: to avoid the fundraising and political demands that would keep him away from his wife and young children for extended periods. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s entrance into the race might only serve to reinforce to Ryan, 41, that a White House bid would require a significant fundraising effort.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin reports that Ryan will make a decision within the next week or two.

We shall  see.

H/T: Hot Air on the updates

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    He decided not to run for Senate in his own state in part because he was not sure he could win a state wide election.

  2. bACHMANN pERRY oVERDRIVE (formerly Hey Norm) says:

    Yes please, please, please…another laughable Republican Candidate is exactly what the 2012 race needs. Ayn Rand must be getting a stiffy.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    Given that Ryan is not likely to win the nomination and that, even if he did, he’d merely be setting up a General Election where the Democrats could demagogue him on entitlement reform would rightly point out that his plan would end Medicare as we know it, thereby destroying any chance he would have of winning, this advice seems to be well-taken.

    Happy to be of help…

  4. Scott F. says:

    “The way I see 2012 – we owe it to the country to let them choose the path they want our country to take. And I just have yet to see a strong and principled articulation of the kind of limited government, opportunity society path that we would provide as an alternative to the Obama cradle to grave welfare state.”

    Too bad he won’t run, because I think he’s absolutely right about this. I don’t think the country would make the choice he presumes, but the debate is the one we need to have.

    And, nice Freudian slip here:

    Frankly, I’d be pretty surprised if Ryan threw his hate into the ring at this point.

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    @Scott F.: I agree that it is a debate we need to have but if you are going to end Medicare say your going to end Medicare. Giving people vouchers for insurance that no one will sell them is ending Medicare.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    Paul Ryan for Prez. How many clowns could they get in that little car?

  7. Scott F. says:

    @Ron Beasley: That’s why I think having Ryan and Obama debate their opposing visions directly (and not via proxy as it would be if say Romney represented the Republican position) would be most useful. As The American Spectator says, Ryan is the face of the Republican version of entitlement reform. His failure to sell the public on that vision would do more to discredit their approach than is possible with any other candidate.

    Frankly, it is inevitable that both sides will demagogue the other’s position. Some representations will be truer than others. But if there were a direct debate, no matter how Ryan lays out the facts of his plan, he would no longer be able to claim that the people “have yet to see a strong and principled articulation” of those facts. And the facts will damn him. The Ryan Plan simply does not address rising costs in healthcare and it does fundamentally change Medicare as we know it.

  8. A voice from another precinct says:

    “And I just have yet to see a strong and principled articulation of the kind of limited government, opportunity society path that we would provide…”

    A strong and principled articulation of such exists? There is such a thing as the “limited government, opportunity society path? I thought these were just slogans.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    @Scott F.: I agree it must be discussed but it also must be an honest discussion and the Ryan plan is not honest. It will not only end medicare it will end medical care for the elderly. As I said vouchers for private insurance that no company will offer ends medicare. The cost of medical care is certainly a factor but Medicare is made up of a pool that requires the most care which is why insurance was not available and why Medicare was created in the first place. The way to afford Medicare may be expanding the pool to include people who require less care – put everyone on it. That should be part of the discussion.
    I lost my job that included medical insurance when the tech bubble burst and off shoring manufacturing went into overdrive. I was 55 at the time and had to go into business for myself since there was little demand for manufacturing engineers. When the Cobra ran out I was unable to find private insurance. I just turned 65 and have medical coverage for the first time in nine years. I was lucky – no major medical events.

  10. Wayne says:

    Yeah and Bush couldn’t win either of his elections to. Kerry was going to cream Bush. Republicans were going to wander the desert for decades after 2008 elections.

    Didn’t work out that way did it?

    The idea that people shouldn’t look for the best candidate and instead choose the first satisfactory candidate that comes along is ridiculous. What is wrong with putting many candidates out there, go through the vetting process and let the people decide who the best one is?

    I suspect many are afraid to do that because their candidate won’t win. Many of the Romney fans I suspect.

  11. Scott F. says:

    @Ron Beasley: I’m sorry for what you had to go through.

    You’ll get no argument from me on the fantasies that are behind the Ryan Plan.

    What I am getting at is in the quote above. Ryan is contending that the reason the Ryan Plan is currently unpopular (and it is clearly) is because the people haven’t heard a strong and principled articulation of what his plan entails. Doug makes a similar point when he claims that what the Democrats will say about the Ryan Plan will be nothing but demagoguery.

    However, if Ryan himself is the one making his strongest case possible for the plan, while Obama is in opposition pointing out all the smoke and mirrors in the proposal, when it ends up that people still hate the Ryan Plan (and they will), Ryan will no longer be able to claim that that people just don’t get it. This is the best possible outcome if you want to see the Ryan Plan die.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Didn’t work out that way did it?

    If you seriously believe that running a candidate who wants to end Medicare is a winning strategy…well, Democrats could only hope for such good fortune…