Rep. Paul Ryan To Seek Speakership If He’s ‘Unity Candidate’ Of Party

AP

Additional reporting by TPM’s Tierney Sneed.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Paul Ryan has told House Republicans he will run for House Speaker if he is the unity candidate of the divided party.

Ryan spoke to the House GOP behind closed doors Tuesday and said if all factions can share his vision and he can get the endorsement of the major caucuses, then he will serve as speaker.

The news was confirmed by his spokesman Brendan Buck, who said according to reports, “If he is not a unifying figure for the conference, then he will not run.”

Members inside the meeting said Ryan laid out his conditions for running. He is seeking the support of three influential caucus groups across the party’s spectrum– including the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the Tuesday Group — by Friday, according to reports.

In a statement released by the Wisconsin congressman, Ryan said he then “will be all in.”

Ryan held a brief press conference after the meeting to lay out his vision for the speakership, if he were elected.

He said Republicans needed to move from being “an opposition party to an proposition party.” He also said he would seek updates to the House rules — a common demand by the conservative hardliners that roiled Speaker John Boehner’s tenure — “so everyone can be a more effective representative.”

He also said he would not sacrifice his time with his family and young children, a concern that had been raised by his allies as the speaker often spends weekends fundraising for members. He said he was still worried about the toll the role would take on his family, but added, “My greatest worry is the consequences of not stepping up.”

The 45-year-old Ryan, under intense pressure to seek the post, gave his colleagues until Friday to express their support. The question will be whether he can win over the hardline House Freedom Caucus, which drove the current speaker, John Boehner, to announce his resignation and scared off Boehner’s No. 2, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, had consistently said he does not want to be speaker and would prefer to stay on as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, which he’s described as his dream job.

But he’s been under heavy pressure to reconsider from Boehner and other party leaders who argue he is the only House Republican with the stature and broad popularity to unite a caucus divided against itself, at a moment of deep turmoil.

Congress is hurtling toward an early November deadline to raise the federal borrowing limit or invite a first-ever default, and a deadline to pass spending legislation or risk a government shutdown will follow in early December.

Several members of the fractious Freedom Caucus were unconvinced after hearing from Ryan.

“I think he has to campaign for it. We’ve heard one speech,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. “We’re willing to listen but it’s the beginning of the conversation as far as I’m concerned.”

Ryan laid out a number of conditions under which he would serve, all of them aimed at defusing an atmosphere of constant chaos and crisis that has hung over the House for the past several years as a large group of tea party-backed lawmakers pushed for confrontation with the White House and demanded changes that the strictures of divided government never could deliver.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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