Paul D. Ryan said he took the job he didn’t want, speaker of the House, out of an obligation to help unify a fractured Republican Conference.
The Wisconsin lawmaker’s immediate predecessor, John A. Boehner, said Sunday there was another compelling factor at play: God. “You have no choice, this isn’t about what you want to do, this is about what God wants you to do, and God told me he wants you to do this,” Boehner said he told Ryan a few weeks ago and recounted in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that aired on the “State of the Union” program.
“I laid every ounce of Catholic guilt I could on him,” said Boehner, who like Ryan, is Roman Catholic.
Resorting to higher powers to convince Ryan to take the job might seem a stretch, but perhaps there is no greater indication of how desperate things appeared after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race to replace Boehner on Oct. 8 and no viable alternative other than Ryan existed.
“I knew he knew he didn’t want to do it,” Boehner said, “but it was obvious to me he was the right person for the job, and I did everything I could to convince him.”
It is not all that surprising that Boehner would make a case to Ryan in religious terms. After all, the Ohio Republican and devout Catholic chose the day after Pope Francis’ historic address to a joint meeting of Congress to announce his resignation. And he suggested it served as a fitting bookend to his decades-long career in public service.
On Ryan’s new job potentially making a bid for the presidency more difficult, Boehner said he thinks Ryan “got over” any White House ambitions he may have once held.
“I think he would have liked to be president,” Boehner continued, “but I think he’s figured out God has another plan in mind for him.”
In a separate interview with Bash that also aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ryan said he’s comfortable with the job he now has.
“If I really wanted to be president, I would have run in this cycle for the presidency,” the 2012 vice presidential nominee said. “I had the chance and opportunity to do so. I chose not to do that.”