House Speaker Paul Ryan on Sunday rebuffed relentless speculation that he might emerge from Republican infighting as the GOP’s presidential candidate, telling The Times of Israel that there were “lots of reasons” why he hadn’t run for president this time, and that he wasn’t about to change his mind.
Speaking soon after arriving in Jerusalem at the start of a visit, Ryan assessed that a Donald Trump victory in Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin — Ryan’s home state — would put the billionaire front-runner on course to clinching the Republican nomination, while a Ted Cruz victory would make an open convention more likely. And he noted that “Cruz is doing pretty well. He’s pulling ahead in polls.”
But Ryan, the VP candidate on Mitt Romney’s 2012 ticket, was quick to stress that “I’m the co-chair of the convention, so I’m perfectly neutral on this.”
Pressed, nonetheless, on how he might respond if prevailed upon to come forward as the nominee who could heal a divided party, Ryan was adamant: “No, I’ve already said that that’s not me.
“I decided not to run for president,” Ryan elaborated. “I think you should run, if you’re going to be president. I think you should start in Iowa and run to the tape.”
Asked why he had opted to stay out of the race this time, Ryan, 46, who is married with a daughter and two sons, said there were “lots of reasons” including “Phase of life: I have a young family.” He said he had “thought I could make a huge difference” in his former position as head of the House Ways and Means Committee, “and still be the kind of dad and husband I want to be.”
What’s more, he added, “We had 17 people running. We had a deep bench of qualified people. So I thought we had that fairly well taken care of.”
Ryan said he ascribed the rise of Trump and anti-establishment Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders to “deep anxiety” among Americans over the “flat” economy and threats to national security.
Ryan’s trip to Israel is his first overseas visit since he assumed the Speaker’s office last October, and he said it was highly important for him to have come to Israel on the first day of his first foreign trip in the job, “to buttress and reinforce our alliance and my belief in a stronger alliance between our two countries.”
The Times of Israel’s full interview with Paul Ryan will be published on Monday.