House Speaker Paul Ryan in a press conference Tuesday afternoon put to rest speculation about a 2016 run for president.
“Count me out,” he 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.”
Ryan said he wanted to put to rest once and for all speculation about running this year for president.
“Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination,” he said.
The Wisconsin lawmaker has been suggested as a potential presidential contender if no current Republican candidate nets the 1237 delegates required to win the nomination. A contested GOP convention could impact party morale.
Ryan has consistently said he will not seek the nomination. Last year, Ryan in a phone interview with NBC News said he would not seek the presidency in 2016.
“I have decided that I am not going to run for president in 2016,” Ryan said last year, noting that he is “at peace” with the decision he made “weeks ago” to forgo a bid for the White House.
In an interview with the Times of Israel last week he again ruled out the prospects of a presidential run.
“I decided not to run for president,” he said while in Israel. “I think you should run if you’re going to be president. I think you should start in Iowa and run to the tape.”
Ryan initially also said no to becoming speaker of the House and only agreed to take the position after certain stipulations were met. Since taking up the post he’s worked to unify the GOP House caucus.
Ryan stressed that saying he won’t run for president is different from his initial refusal and then acceptance of the call to become speaker. The distinction, he said, is because he was already a member of Congress and was simply adding to his role.
“Apples and oranges,” he said, “Being speaker of the house is a far cry from being President of the United States.”
Ryan has also been deeply critical of the tenor of the current state of the race.
In a speech last month “on the state of American politics,” Ryan decried the idea of winning elections by “dividing people.”
The comments were seen as a thinly-veiled reference to Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump.
Sources close to Ryan tell NBC News that part of his calculation for making such a big and public announcement on Tuesday is the issue of “character.”
Ryan became increasingly concerned that his public work as speaker would be misinterpreted including his trips and his policy ideas with some kind of “ulterior motive.” He wanted to make clear that his public work is not a shadow campaign to be drafted as the party’s nominee.
On another level, there was an increasing sense that basic operations of the House would be disrupted by the ongoing speculation.
Despite repeated insistence that he was not interested in running for president, Ryan tried Tuesday to also reassure House members that he is with them as they legislate and many run for reelection.
A congressional aide told NBC News, “We have a lot we want to still do, and we want to keep doing it.”
Kelly O’Donnell contributed to this report.
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.