- Announcement aims to end speculation he could be party nominee
- Trump, Cruz may not gain enough delegates to clinch nomination
House Speaker Paul Ryan ruled out any bid for the Republican presidential nomination this year, saying the party should choose from among the candidates who have run in the 2016 primaries.
“I want to put this to rest once and for all,” Ryan said Tuesday at the Republican National Committee office in Washington. “I do not want, nor will I accept, the nomination for our party.”
Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate, had previously said a number of times that he wasn’t interested in a candidacy amid turmoil in the party intensified by the rise of outside contender Donald Trump.
Still, a number of top Republicans have suggested that Ryan would be a more palatable alternative for voters than Trump or Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has been a divisive force in the Senate and has drawn minimal support from fellow members of Congress. So far, there’s no guarantee that either candidate will have the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright at the July convention in Cleveland.
In such a case, the party shouldn’t look outside those who ran in the primaries for a nominee, the speaker said.
“Let me speak directly to the delegates on this: If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only choose a person who actually participated in the primary,” Ryan said, adding that Republicans should change the convention rules to put that policy into effect.
As Neutral as Switzerland
As the top House Republican, Ryan will be chairman of the convention, and he has pledged to be as neutral as Switzerland in his oversight of the proceedings.
Ryan’s own activities have helped to encourage some of the speculation that he may emerge as the party nominee. Last week he traveled to Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East, and his staff released a campaign-style video of a speech by the speaker promoting political civility and ideas.
At Tuesday’s news conference, he sought to end the debate about his intentions. Still, he said, “Not running does not mean I am going to disappear.”
He said he will focus on spelling out an agenda for Republican congressional candidates in the fall election. The party holds majorities in the House and Senate.
Ryan, who took over as speaker in October, was first elected to Congress in 1998. He became chairman of the House Budget Committee in 2011 when Republicans gained the House majority, and then became Ways and Means chairman early last year.
He was elected as speaker after a revolt by conservative Republicans drove former Speaker John Boehner to resign. Ryan had repeatedly said he didn’t want to become speaker, but agreed to take the job after insisting that Republican factions must unify behind him.