(CBS News) – After weeks of insisting he would not run for Speaker, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan – according to those close to him – is now open to leading the fractured Republican conference, and seriously considering launching a bid for speaker of the House.
But there’s a caveat. And it’s a big one.
Ryan’s confidants tell CBS News he will not horse trade with the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 40 or so deeply conservative members who have beendemanding changes to House rules and other very specific promises from candidates for Speaker in exchange for their support. Ryan’s confidants say he is not going to negotiate for a job he never sought, and that he has a record of conservative leadership that should be clear to every member of the GOP.
They say Ryan hasn’t ruled out meeting with the House Freedom Caucus if asked, but “he’s not going to go to the Freedom Caucus and say, ‘I’ll do this and this’…otherwise you’ve sold yourself to them from the very beginning, and set yourself up for failure” said someone with knowledge of his deliberations.’ “He still really, really does not want to do this. He has his dream job. If he’s Speaker, his whole career path changes. He’s not going to make concessions to get a job he didn’t want in the first place.”
Either members believe in his conservative leadership, or they don’t – and if Ryan concludes that he’s unlikely to get a near-unanimous vote of support from republicans, his allies say he is happy to stay exactly where he is as the chair of the House Ways and Means committee.
Those close to Ryan say the true test will come on Wednesday. The House returns from a weeklong recess on Tuesday evening, and House Republicans are likely to meet behind closed doors on Wednesday morning. There, Ryan will likely be asked to speak – and he’ll have his first chance to gauge reaction from members as they go to the microphones to express their views.
Do they say “we know who you are, you’re the guy,” as one Ryan confidant put it? Or do they express skepticism after a week of attacks on Ryan by far right media outlets?
Conservative commentators like Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham have suggested that Ryan has abandoned some of his conservative principles.
Get the full story at cbsnews.com