Paul Ryan says he won't accept GOP nomination. Is he for real?

image from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s video, "Politics These Days"

A few minutes ago, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters, "Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination." According to Amber Phillips of the Washington Post, today’s announcement was the nineteenth time Ryan or someone speaking on his behalf has ruled out running for president in 2016. Yet many Republicans hope that neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz will win the 1,237 votes needed to secure the presidential nomination at the GOP national convention in Cleveland, allowing delegates to turn to Ryan as a unifying figure on the third or fourth ballot. That scenario may be the least-bad among a number of unappealing possibilities facing Republicans, as the party’s front-runner has historically high unfavorable ratings.

Ryan said today that delegates should "Count me out" if there is a brokered convention: "I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee for our party – to be the president – you should actually run for it. I chose not to do this. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period. End of story."

Meanwhile, the House speaker is running a "parallel policy campaign," which he calls #ConfidentAmerica. This campaign could be designed to insulate GOP House candidates from a landslide loss at the top of the ticket. But to me and many other observers, the #ConfidentAmerica materials resemble presidential candidate tv ads. I’ve enclosed one video after the jump, so you can judge for yourself.

Any speculation about what might happen in a GOP brokered convention is welcome in this thread. Whether Trump can lock down the nomination on June 7 depends on several factors Bleeding Heartland user fladem discussed here, and on whether Cruz continues to outperform late polling in the remaining primaries.

Governor Terry Branstad has so far refused to say how he would vote on a second or subsequent ballot, if he becomes a delegate to the RNC. Senator Joni Ernst has suggested that "it would be hard to get buy-in" for nominating someone who did not run for president this year.

UPDATE: NPR’s Susan Davis observed, "Paul Ryan raised $17.2m in Q1. He’s raised $23.5m since becoming speaker in Oct. This probably means he’s running for president." Yes, it probably does.

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IA-04, IA-Gov?: Bill Northey endorses Steve King for Congress

The Republican National Convention delegate elections grabbed most of the attention from today’s Iowa GOP district conventions, but Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey made some news at the fourth district gathering in Fort Dodge. Kathie Obradovich reported for the Des Moines Register,

“When I think of somebody I want in the room talking with conservative congressmen and senators, a potential president, on ethanol issues, I want Steve King,” [Northey] said.

King, in turn, suggested a promotion for Northey — but not to governor, a job for which he is often mentioned as a potential candidate. He noted there will be a new U.S. Agriculture secretary next year. “We’ll no longer have Secretary (Tom) Vilsack. I think maybe Secretary Northey sounds pretty good to me.”

King touted the quadrupling of ag land values during the first 12 years he was in Congress. “We should not forget, those are the best 12 years that agriculture has ever had in the history of this state during that period of time,” he said.

You don’t have to be an economist to know the rise in Iowa farmland values since 2003 has very little connection to who represented our state in Congress. But let’s leave that aside for now. Northey and King have long had a friendly political relationship. The ag secretary cut a radio ad King aired near the end of his toughest re-election campaign, the 2012 race against Christie Vilsack in a substantially redrawn district. Click through to read the transcript of that commercial, in which Northey touted King’s record on agriculture issues and support from farm groups. I would not be surprised to see a similar testimonial hit the airwaves before King’s June 7 primary against State Senator Rick Bertrand. People linked to the ethanol industry are among Bertrand’s heavy-hitter supporters, largely because King endorsed Senator Ted Cruz for president, despite Cruz’s stand on the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Speaking of the presidential race, King discussed possible brokered convention scenarios on this weekend’s edition of Iowa Public Television’s "Iowa Press" program. He predicted that "neither Trump nor Cruz delegates are going to tolerate anyone coming in from the outside that hasn’t been a candidate," such as U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. The full video and transcript are here; I’ve enclosed relevant excerpts below.

Northey is widely considered likely to run for governor in 2018 rather than for a fourth term as secretary of agriculture. King’s support could be helpful in a primary that will almost certainly include at least two other candidates: Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. Neither has a strong base in rural Iowa, although Corbett has tried to bolster his credentials with the farm community by touting all-voluntary efforts to reduce agricultural runoff and bashing some efforts to regulate farm-based pollution.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Paul Ryan elected House speaker: How the Iowans voted

Yesterday House Republicans elected 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as House speaker to replace the retiring John Boehner. Ryan received 236 votes to 184 for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and nine for Daniel Webster, the candidate endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus and some other conservatives. For some time after the implosion of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s aspirations to be speaker, Ryan had insisted he would prefer to remain Ways and Means Committee chair, but last week he succumbed to an intense recruiting effortby senior Republicans.

Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) all voted for Ryan yesterday on the House floor. Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted for Pelosi. I enclose below comments from Blum and King after the speaker election. Both had voted for Webster rather than to re-elect Boehner in January. Since Boehner announced his retirement last month, King has been one of the loudest advocates for Webster as speaker. Blum belongs to the House Freedom Caucus, so I suspect he was among the 43 Republicans who voted for Webster in a closed caucus meeting on October 28. However, neither Blum nor his staff responded to my request for comment on whether he supported Webster or Ryan, who received 200 votes in that closed meeting.

I did not see any public comment from Young in recent weeks on whom he would support for speaker. I assume he backed Ryan in closed session as well as on the House floor, but his staff did not disclose that information when I sought comment.

Webster said on October 28 that

his campaign for speaker had been a game-changer, one that had all but forced Ryan and others to promise an overhaul of the culture of the GOP Conference.

“I think we have changed the debate, changed the discussion away from a power-based system, away from a top-down approach, to one that works,” Webster said. “And if we can do that, we’ll be successful. If we don’t, we won’t be.”

King’s case for Webster slammed the "abuse of power plays by leadership" under Boehner and the "schism created by leadership’s persistent and relentless punishment of principled Members who vote their conscience." Ryan promised yesterday to unify the GOP caucus, suggesting he will not seek revenge on those who opposed him as speaker, like Boehner did earlier this year.

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Steve King still pushing Daniel Webster for House speaker, not sold on Paul Ryan

Representative Steve King (IA-04) is still urging fellow Republicans to elect Representative Daniel Webster of Florida as speaker, even as House Ways & Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has gained momentum as a consensus choice to lead the chamber. King voted for Webster in the January election for House speaker and affirmed that he favored Webster when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was favored to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner.

After repeatedly saying he was not interested in the job, Ryan announced on Tuesday he would run for speaker if certain conditions were met. King advocated for Webster in a guest piece in yesterday’s Conservative Review. I’ve posted excerpts after the jump. Although King didn’t mention Ryan by name, he alluded to him when asserting, "We cannot have a reluctant Speaker. Webster is confident and sees the Speaker’s job as an opportunity to serve with purpose and principle."

Appearing on MSNBC’s "Hardball" program yesterday, King suggested it would be a "bridge too far" to change House rules so members could not pass a motion to remove the chair, as Ryan has demanded. He predicted that condition would be a big problem for many Democrats as well as for some Republicans. King also noted that while Ryan had promised not to bring any major immigration reform bill to the House floor while President Barack Obama is still in office, he is still concerned that a bill including a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants could come up in the next Congress. King and his allies successfully pressured Boehner not to bring the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan immigration reform up for a vote in 2013 or 2014.

King leads the House Republican group called the Conservative Opportunity Society. Another right-wing faction called the House Freedom Caucus includes first-term Republican Rod Blum (IA-01). I haven’t seen any recent public comment from Blum on his preference for speaker. Like King, he voted for Webster rather than for Boehner in January. The majority of House Freedom Caucus members voted last night to support Paul Ryan for speaker. According to Drew Desilver’s close look at the House Freedom Caucus for the Pew Research Center’s "Fact Tank," its members are more conservative and have less seniority than the average House Republican.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Just when I was starting to think Mike Huckabee was smart

Blogger’s lament: let’s say you have a post in progress about a Republican carving out a promising niche in a crowded presidential field. He’s talking about highly salient issues for non-wealthy Americans, in a way that will distinguish him from most of his rivals. Not only do those policies relate to the well-being of many voters, they also allow the candidate to position himself against "elite" GOP strategists and other establishment figures hated by the party’s conservative base.

Then the guy does the stupidest thing you could imagine.

With one Facebook status update on Friday, Mike Huckabee may have wiped out any chance of broadening his appeal through the smart decision to focus his early campaign rhetoric on Social Security and trade.

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House passes first 2016 spending bills: How the Iowans voted

Catching up on Congressional news, last week the U.S. House approved a joint Republican framework setting top-line numbers for the federal budget as well as the first two spending bills for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Along the way, House members considered amendments covering a wide range of issues, from regulations on incandescent light bulbs to "prevailing wage" rules for federal construction projects to medical marijuana advice for Americans who receive their health care through the Veterans Administration.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest votes by Iowa Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04).

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