Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, heeding calls from throughout his party, said he would run for the House Speakership—if his conditions were met. Ryan said he would make a final decision by the end of the week.
Ryan told the fractured House Republican conference Tuesday evening that he would seek the top spot in the House of Representatives only if he received the endorsement of the three largest GOP groups—the Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee, and the Tuesday Group. The former vice-presidential nominee’s move puts the onus especially on the conservative Freedom Caucus, which has been a thorn in the side of House leadership, and said he would make his decision by Friday.
“Congressman Ryan has said he’s willing to serve if he can be the choice of all three wings of the Republican Party,” Rep. Darrell Issa told the press outside the closed-door meeting. Applause could be heard outside the room when Ryan indicated his willingness to run for speaker.
According to sources inside the room, Ryan told the House Republicans that he didn’t want to be the “third log on the bonfire”—a reference to the conservative efforts to burn Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy—and that he’s willing to “take arrows in the chest, but not in the back.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who was in the running to succeed Boehner, immediately emerged from the room to say that he was dropping out and endorsing Ryan.
“I’m out, and I’m in with Paul,” Chaffetz said. “I think he’d be an exceptional speaker.”
Ryan’s other conditions involved changing the role of speaker to allow him to continue spending time with his family; with a focus less on crossing the country to raise money for candidates and more on messaging and strategy. He also wanted rules changed so that the conservative wing of the party wouldn’t be able to force him out as easily, and to decentralize the policy process away from House leadership toward the committees.
“He wants to unify the conference, maybe redesign the job a little bit, make it more focused on strategy and communications… a little less focused on fundraising,” said Rep. Charlie Dent.