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Ryan Still Doesn’t Want to Run for President

Speaker says ‘the left’ is trying to delegitimize Trump’s presidency before it starts

Speaker Paul D. Ryan insists he still does not want to run for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Speaker Paul D. Ryan insists he still does not want to run for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has been asked hundreds, if not thousands, of times if he wants to run for president one day. The answer has not changed. 

“No,” Ryan said in an interview with Charlie Rose scheduled to air on PBS late Thursday. “It’s just not an ambition that I’ve long harbored, or I’ve harbored.” 

The Wisconsin Republican said he’s grown to like being speaker and there’s no other job he’s seeking. He also indicated that after this gig is up, he won’t be looking to run for higher office.

“I enjoy being a policymaker, making a difference in Congress, but most of all, I like being a normal person who’s a dad, a husband, having a normal life and a normal family,” Ryan said. “And I can go back to that normal life when I’m done with public service.”

Rose also asked Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, about his views on Barack Obama’s presidency. 

“He’d be a great next-door neighbor,” Ryan said. “I just don’t like him as president.”

While praising Obama as a good family man and communicator, the speaker criticized his policies as too liberal and noted the outgoing president would have accomplished more had he remained a centrist. 

“This is a presidency of massive missed potential,” Ryan said. 

While Ryan has his differences too with the incoming president, he said he and Donald Trump have built trust through constant communication since the election. As to the heated rhetoric of the campaign, during which Trump personally attacked Ryan, the speaker said he never worried about it. 

“I’m a big boy with thick skin,” he said. 

Democrats have not been as forgiving of Trump. In fact, their criticisms of him have continued to grow. 

“I do think that the left is definitely trying to undermine or delegitimize his presidency on the eve of it,” Ryan said. 

On the literal eve of Trump’s swearing-in, House Democrats held a press conference to continue hammering him and other Republicans for trying to repeal the 2010 health care law. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats narrated stories they’ve heard directly from constituents about how dismantling the law would harm them. 

The Democrats also continued to criticize the GOP for failing to offer a replacement plan over the past seven years since the health care law was enacted. 

“A shiny little pamphlet doesn’t count as a replacement plan,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman, in a jab at Ryan’s “A Better Way” blueprint that was printed in a pamphlet he carried around with him through the campaign. 

Republicans are trying to counter the Democrats’ messaging with their own about the negative impacts of the law. The House Budget Committee on Tuesday is holding its first hearing of the 115th Congress on repealing the health care law entitled “The Failures of Obamacare: Harmful Effects and Broken Promises.”

During his interview with Rose, Ryan continued to talk about the need to quickly repeal the health care law and said he plans to offer replacement legislation around the same time as the repeal measure. 

“They can’t for legislative reasons be in the same bill,” Ryan said. “That’s a procedural challenge we have. But we intend on bringing all of our bills together that show what we would repeal and replace it with.”

The forthcoming repeal legislation is a product of the fiscal 2017 budget reconciliation process, a tool used to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. Republicans plan to set up that process again in their fiscal 2018 budget to advance some of their other priorities. 

“It is that second budget with tax reform,” Ryan said. “That budget also though has to create the fiscal space for some other priorities — rebuilding our military. Donald has also asked us to add infrastructure to the priorities this year. We’ve gladly done that. We’ve got to carve out the fiscal space for that this year.”

The fiscal 2018 budget is also expected to include funding to erect a physical barrier along the southern border. Ryan said parts of the barrier will likely be a wall, as Trump has called for, and other portions may be a fence. 

As to whether it’s feasible for Mexico to pay back the United States for constructing the wall, as Trump has promised, Ryan said, “Actually, it is, if you define paying it back in a broader way.”

The speaker said there are tax and currency policy changes Congress is hoping to pass that would result in Mexico providing money to the United States. 

“There are actually ways where we would get more money coming in from Mexico than measured [under] the current status quo in excess of what it would cost to finance a wall,” he said. 

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