On Wednesday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan “appeared to crack the door” to a future presidential run, according to reports.
While addressing the Economic Club of Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Ryan was asked whether he would consider running for president.
“You never say never to these things…but I’ve never really had this ambition,” Ryan said.
“I have presidential-size policy ambition,” Ryan added. “I’ve really never had presidential-size personal ambition. It just was never really in my DNA.”
However, just last year, Speaker Ryan repeatedly insisted that he did not “want” or have the ambition to become House Speaker.
“Maybe it’s just the phase of life I’m in,” Ryan told attendees of the Economic Club on Wednesday. “One of the reasons I didn’t do it this last time is because my kids are young and want to be normal.”
Again, Ryan used a similar line in 2015 while then explaining why he would not be Speaker of the House: “This [i.e. House Speaker] is a job for an empty nester,” Ryan said last year.
According to Politico, the moderator followed up with Ryan and observed that he would have time to run for President once his children were older. When the moderator asked if Ryan would ever run in the next “’25-year period,’ Ryan wouldn’t say no,” Politico reports.
“Who knows,” Ryan said in response.
Ryan would presumably run as a Republican, however, polls show that on the two of the most significant issues of the 2016 election, Ryan finds himself on the opposite side of roughly 9 in 10 Republican voters.
On the issue of trade, Ryan has a long record of being a vocal advocate for global trade. Yet a recent POLITICO pro-Harvard poll found that 85% of Republicans believe that so-called “free trade” has lost more U.S. jobs than it has created. The poll also found that 66% of Republicans believe that free trade has lowered U.S. wages. By a nearly three-to-one margin, Republicans believe free trade agreements have “hurt” their community rather than helped it.
Similarly, according to Pew polling data, Ryan’s position on immigration is opposed by 92 percent of the GOP electorate. Pew found that more than 9 in 10 Republicans would like to see immigration levels frozen or reduced. However, Ryan has a two-decade-long history of pushing to increase the nation’s already record high rate of immigration.
However, the polling data demonstrating the Republican electorate’s opposition to his policy positions may be of little concern to the Republican House Speaker’s presidential ambitions. In recent years, Ryan has gained a reputation amongst conservatives for pushing his own personal agenda regardless of the wishes of the electorate he is supposed to represent.
As Lou Dobbs has explained:
Yes, he [Paul Ryan] has an agenda. It’s not that of the party. It is his own agenda. He is working hard to promote not the convention but himself… To date he’s been far more divisive than his words and actions though Ryan has spent more of his breath slamming the Republican nominee — the one chosen by record number of Republican voters. And all the while Ryan pushing his own certainly irrelevant agenda instead of working to unify the party behind Trump and Trump’s agenda that shared by millions and millions of voters. Ryan is proving himself to be nothing more than an eager tool of the establishment and for the big donors like Paul Singer or Charles Koch or the most powerful lobby in D.C., the Chamber of Commerce… In my opinion, Speaker Ryan has become something of a tiresome tremendous embarrassment for the Republican Party… [he] has made himself a sad spectacle.
As President Obama wraps up the final months of his Presidency, Paul Ryan is now working to pass his so-called “criminal sentencing” rewrite during the lame duck session of Congress. The plan could slash sentences for many federal prison inmates, prompting critics of the Obama-Ryan “criminal sentencing” agenda to dub it Ryan’s “prison break” agenda. Critics of the plan include Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. Yet Ryan has pushed back against critics, arguing that rather than locking criminals up, we need to “unlock their potential.”
“Instead of locking people up, why don’t we unlock their potential?” Ryan asked in a video message promoted on Twitter.
Ryan’s efforts to push so-called “criminal sentencing reform” come as millions of Republican voters overwhelmingly selected as their party’s standard bearer a Republican nominee who has branded himself as the “law and order” candidate, and who, if elected President, would likely oppose Ryan’s criminal sentencing rewrite.