sat down with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and the discussion turned to the possibility of a Republican contested convention – where, in theory, the party could nominate a presidential candidate who didn’t seek the office. “I’m happy where I am, so no,” the GOP leader said.Yesterday, CNBC’s John Harwood
But pressed further, Ryan used some additional phrasing that raised eyebrows. “You know, I haven’t given any thought to this stuff,” the Speaker added. “People say, ‘What about the contested convention?’ I say, well, there are a lot of people running for president. We’ll see. Who knows?”
This won’t help the chatter.
Former Speaker John Boehner said Paul Ryan should be the Republican nominee for president if the party fails to choose a candidate on the first ballot.“If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above,” Boehner said at the Futures Industry Association conference here. “They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I’m for none of the above. I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.”
As the Politico report added, Boehner, who endorsed John Kasich’s campaign just a few days ago, emphasized that “anybody can be nominated” at the convention – and the former Speaker wants that person to be his successor in the Speaker’s office.
Keep in mind, in the CNBC interview yesterday, Ryan expressed no real interest in the gig. “I actually think you should run for president if you’re going to be president, if you want to be president,” the Wisconsin congressman said. “I’m not running for president. I made that decision, consciously, not to.”
The trouble is, Ryan said the same thing when Boehner retired and party officials asked Ryan to consider running for Speaker. The Wisconsin Republican said no, more than once, but eventually succumbed to pressure, reversed course, and sought the job. (In fact, Ryan set some conditions for accepting the role, and as his interest grew, he eventually abandoned those conditions.)
And that in turn created an impression in the minds of Republicans that Ryan, when pressed, will accept great power when it’s offered, even after he seemingly takes himself out of consideration. Indeed, Ryan didn’t exactly lobby for the 2012 ticket four years ago, but that didn’t stop Mitt Romney from choosing him as his running mate.
It’s possible, of course, that Donald Trump will secure the necessary delegates and make this a moot point. The current Republican frontrunner may also come close enough that it makes it all but impossible for the party to deny him the presidential nomination. But the fact that Ryan wasn’t categorical in his choice of words yesterday, coupled with Boehner’s out-of-the-blue endorsement, will make Beltway chatter just a little louder.