No Means No Unless You Are Paul Ryan

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In the face of speculation resulting from the inability of most of the Republican Establishment to choose between Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, Speaker Paul Ryan held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to try make clear he will not be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. During the news conference Ryan tried to sound firm:

Let me be clear. I do not want, nor will I accept, the nomination of our party.

If no candidate has the majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only turn to a person who has participated in the primary. Count me out.

I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee — to be the president — you should actually run for it. I chose not to. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period. I just think it would be wrong to go any other way.

It’s not that simple. You might ask why. Doesn’t no mean no? Not if you are Ryan. When the House needed to replace Speaker Boehner, Ryan denied he was interested in seeking the position. In fact, as reported by Breitbart, during the month before Ryan was elected Speaker, he repeatedly said that he would not become Speaker of the House:

1. The Hill reported in an article entitled, “Paul Ryan Won’t Run for Speaker”: Ryan, currently the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, had a succinct, one-word answer when asked if he wanted to succeed Boehner, following the Speaker’s stunning resignation on Friday morning: ‘No.’ Asked why, the Wisconsin Republican said ‘Because I don’t want to be Speaker.’ […] ‘This is a job for an empty nester,’ Ryan told reporters on Friday.

2. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) confirmed Ryan’s opposition to becoming House Speaker, telling the New York Times: “I asked him [Ryan] a while back if he would consider being the speaker. He put his hands on my shoulders and said, ‘I love you guys, but not enough to be your speaker.’ ”

3. Ryan restated his refusal to run as House Speaker in a statement released on October 8. As the Huffington Post reported in an article entitled, “Paul Ryan Won’t Run For House Speaker”: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he will not enter the race for House speaker. “While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate,” Ryan said in a statement Thursday.

4. Paul Ryan reiterated his statement to NBC. As Talking Points Memo noted in an article entitled, “Paul Ryan: Sorry Guys, It’s Still No”: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told NBC News through a spokesperson Friday that despite Republicans calling for him to enter the race for Speaker of the House, he’s still not interested.

5. On October 14, Ryan’s spokesman again confirmed that Ryan had not changed his position on the matter. As Breitbart’s Matt Boyle reported in an article entitled, “Confirmed, Again: Paul Ryan Is Not Running For Speaker Of The House,” Boyle writes: A spokesman for House Ways and Means Committee Paul Ryan confirms yet again that despite all the donor class and political establishment wooing, Ryan is not running to replace outgoing Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. ‘His position has not changed, and I cannot predict if it will,’ Brendan Buck, Ryan’s spokesman, told Breitbart News on Wednesday afternoon.

As Mike Allen points out Ryan is more calculating and ambitious than he lets on and is “running the same playbook he did to become speaker: saying he doesn’t want it, that it won’t happen. In both cases, the maximum leverage is to not want it — and to be begged to do it.”