Analysis'I've already said that that's not me'

Paul Ryan in Israel dismisses talk of being Republicans’ compromise pick

‘If you’re going to be president, I think you should start in Iowa and run to the tape,’ House Speaker tells The Times of Israel

David Horovitz

David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He is the author of "Still Life with Bombers" (2004) and "A Little Too Close to God" (2000), and co-author of "Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin" (1996). He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011) and The Jerusalem Report (1998-2004).

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin (AP/Molly Riley)
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin (AP/Molly Riley)

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.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and his vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., takes the stage at a campaign stop, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, in Henderson, Nev. (photo credit: David Goldman/AP)
Mitt Romney (right), and his vice-presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin (left), take the stage at a campaign stop in Henderson, Nevada, on October 23, 2012. (AP/David Goldman)

“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.”

From left, presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders. (Getty Images via JTA)
From left: US presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders (Getty Images via JTA)

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.

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