It's all about Paul Ryan right now. [...] The Wisconsin Republican is getting bombarded with calls and one-on-one appeals from GOP lawmakers, urging him to be the party's white knight. Boehner has had multiple conversations with the Ways and Means Committee chairman. Even before he dropped his own bid, McCarthy told Ryan he should do it. And the list goes on: House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) spoke to him about it on the House floor, and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) also has pushed Ryan to reconsider.
When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) unexpectedly announced his retirement two weeks ago, many on Capitol Hill feared an ugly free-for-all, with a dozen or more House Republicans hoping to take advantage of the unique opportunity.
GOP leaders, desperate to avoid such chaotic circumstances, moved quickly, rallying behind House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He faced two challengers -- one of whom entered the Speaker's race late -- but the unruly mess of a massive field of candidates never materialized.
Instead, a different kind of unruly mess forced McCarthy to quit.
There's no shortage of questions about what happens now -- to the party, to the country -- but the most immediate question is who will to try to be the next Speaker of the House.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) threw his hat into the ring yesterday, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is reportedly "considering" it. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Dan Webster (R-Fla.), both of whom took on McCarthy, are very likely to give it another shot.
Rep. Tom Cole's (R-Okla.) name came up quite a bit yesterday as a more mainstream option, while Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) heard their names floated.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who resigned in disgrace nearly two decades ago, said yesterday he's open to reclaiming his old post if Republicans rally behind him. (Seriously, that's what he said.)
And while it's certainly possible that one of these men may end up as the GOP's nominee, let's not pretend any of them are at the top of the Republican wish-list. Politico noted the Republican Party's favorite.
Referring to Ryan, Trey Gowdy said, “I have spent more time trying to talk him into running [for Speaker] than I did my wife into marrying me.”
The Republican Party's problem is that Paul Ryan really doesn't want to be Speaker. Almost immediately after Boehner announced he's stepping down, Ryan quickly made clear he would not run. Almost immediately after McCarthy withdrew from consideration, the Wisconsin congressman once again said he "will not" be a candidate for Speaker.
But this time, the party is pushing him anyway. Boehner was heard saying yesterday that "it has to be Ryan" -- even if Ryan himself disagrees.
For what it's worth, Ryan's rhetoric shifted slightly late last night, and though different reporters are hearing different things, the Washington Post, citing "top GOP sources," said this morning that Ryan "is seriously considering a bid for House speaker."
It's a miserable job, and Ryan knows it, but that doesn't mean he'll ignore the intensifying pressure.