Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delivered a pitch Tuesday night to run for House speaker and end weeks of GOP chaos as long as Republican lawmakers meet certain conditions for his tenure, according to several lawmakers leaving a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting.
Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) moved closer to becoming House speaker Tuesday, answering a flurry of calls from fellow Republicans who see him as the best hope to unite his party’s warring factions on Capitol Hill.
“If Paul Ryan can’t unite us, no one can. Who else is out there?” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), a moderate. “That’d be a sign of utter dysfunction, total madness.”
After days of deliberation, Ryan neared a decision on whether he was willing to serve as House speaker, associates said. Three years after Mitt Romney chose him as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, Ryan once again finds himself being urged to lead his party amid mass unrest in its ranks.
Ryan met Tuesday evening with tea party hard-liners and later with the larger group of House Republicans. His allies said they expected him to make clear that he will move to formally seek the speaker’s gavel only if he has the nearly unanimous support of his GOP colleagues, arguing that a speaker who starts with uncertain political capital would face a constant threat of intraparty reprisals.
Ryan, 45, is expected to continue meeting Wednesday with House Republicans to explore his reluctant candidacy for speaker, evaluating whether the groundswell of enthusiasm that has greeted him in recent weeks can be sustained over the long haul.
At the top of Ryan’s list of demands, his associates said, is a desire to lead the House GOP as its spokesman and agenda setter without the threat of revolt from the right, halting a dynamic that has dominated the tumultuous speakership of John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who announced last month that he would leave Congress at the end of October. Another aim would be to delegate some of the job’s travel and fundraising demands so that Ryan could spend enough time with his wife and school-age children.
“My only caution is that he should go very slow and make sure that the whole conference is coming to him,” said former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R). “Don’t underestimate the degree of getting chewed up. We are not like the Democrats right now. They are relatively cohesive. . . . We are a movement in enormous ferment, with enormous anger and enormous impatience.”
Looming over Ryan’s deliberations is a churning frustration among Republicans nationally about the party’s ability to oppose President Obama and a presidential primary field led by anti-establishment outsiders who have made common cause with the House GOP’s right flank.
Those conservative House members have pushed for a suite of rules changes, ranging from an overhaul of the party’s internal steering committee to a more open process for considering legislation. Ryan, they say, would not be exempt from those demands, which, if adopted, could give the new speaker less control.
Ryan’s allies say his conditions for becoming speaker are likely to include an understanding that he would have a free hand to lead without a constant fear of mutinous reprisals.
SOURCE: Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis
The Washington Post