WASHINGTON – U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday definitively ruled out a bid for president this year, insisting that the Republican Party’s choice should emerge from the group of candidates who pursued the nomination.
“Count me out,” the 2012 vice-presidential candidate told reporters.
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In a statement at the Republican National Committee headquarters, the Wisconsin Republican sought to calm rampant speculation that he would emerge as the nominee from a potentially contested convention. Many in the party are worried that front-runner Donald Trump becoming the nominee could mean losing the general election in November to the Democrats.
“We have too much work to do in the House to allow this speculation to swirl or have my motivations questioned,” said Ryan. “Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination.”
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Ryan’s comments come as a contested convention looks more likely by the day. Ryan and his aides have continually denied the speaker has presidential ambitions this year.
Ryan also denied he wanted to be House speaker last year after then-Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation, but ended up with the job anyway.
Tuesday’s appearance may not be enough to quiet the talk about Ryan, given the unpredictable twists of the Republican presidential primary.
“So 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. Count me out,” Ryan said.
“I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee, to be the president, you should actually run for it. I chose not to. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period.”
Trump looks unlikely to accumulate the necessary delegates to clinch the nomination ahead of the July convention. That would allow his lead challenger, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to make a play for the job.
But if neither candidate can get the delegate votes necessary as balloting progresses in the convention, chaos could result and other Republicans who aren’t currently running could emerge.
As a young and charismatic conservative, popular with donors and with some conservative activists, Ryan’s name has been at the top of that list for months. Ryan is also seen as a possible candidate in 2020.
In an interview earlier Tuesday on WISN radio in Milwaukee, Ryan laughed when asked if he was working behind the scenes to “steal” the nomination from Trump and Cruz.
“No, I am not,” Ryan said. “This is just amazing. It is just amazing how these things keep going.”
Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor in Washington and Scott Bauer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, contributed to this report.