Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said Tuesday night that he would run for House speaker, but he will only accept Washington’s hardest job if Republican colleagues meet specific conditions.
In the aftermath of John Boehner’s retirement announcement last month, Ryan had appeared unwilling to accept the role, despite urging from colleagues across the political spectrum.
However, in a Tuesday night meeting of the House Republican Conference, Ryan told fellow Republicans that he would run if the caucus unifies around a positive message of big ideas.
“We need to move from an opposition party to a proposition party,” Ryan told reporters. “If I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve.”
“My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up,” he said.
Ryan also insisted that House rules must be changed to make it harder for dissident members to try to oust the speaker. After seeing the constant threat John Boehner was under, such a condition is understandable. No one can be successful with the threat of ousting always hanging over their head.
Ryan gave the conference a deadline of Friday to accept the conditions, but even if Republicans meet his demands, he still wouldn’t have an unimpeded path to the speaker’s chair. Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, who has been endorsed by the conservative Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday night that he’s staying in the contest.
“I look forward to continuing to share my vision of pushing down the pyramid of power and spreading out the base to allow each member to be successful,” Webster said in a statement.
Much of the GOP constituency backs Ryan’s run for Speaker, according to numerous NBC/Wall Street Journal polls. 63 percent of GOP voters feel comfortable with Ryan as speaker, and nearly 68 percent of Tea Party backers feel the same. It looks like the Republicans might have finally found their man.