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Not ‘Right Now’

Paul Ryan opens the door for a presidential run.

7:45 AM, May 27, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Paul Ryan was interviewed on Fox News’s Special Report last night. Watch the segment for an impressive, and unapologetic, defense of the House Republican budget—and (what Republicans too rarely stress) an explanation that the status quo is "collapsing." His plan, Ryan says, "saves Medicare from going bankrupt. Senator Reid seems to be content with the fact that Medicare is going bankrupt because they're offering no plan or solution to solve the problem."

Paul Ryan

Ryan was also asked about calls for him to enter the presidential race. He acknowledged, "I get this quite a bit." But, he said, "I really believe I can do more for this cause where I am right now as chairman of the House Budget Committee. I have no plans to do this—it takes an enormous undertaking to do this—and right now where I am at this moment, I need to focus on this budget fight we're in. This summer we're going to be spending a lot of time in budget fights and to me, that's where I can make the biggest contribution to the debate right now."

That's three uses of "right now" in three sentences. He's not running, and not planning to run, right now. But he also said later in the interview that "what matters to me is that leaders step up and offer solutions to our country's problems," and that "I think people are hungry for people to step up and offer solutions. That's what leaders do and those of us who are leading—I think people want that." What's more: "If you want to be the president of the United States, you should put up ideas on how to solve this country's massive fiscal and economic problems. The current president isn't doing that. Our nominees should do that."

So the door is ajar—not "right now," but after the summer, and if no one else is able to show the kind and quality of leadership that's needed.

Meanwhile, Ryan Streeter, on his fine website Conservative Home, has a petition where people can sign up to urge Paul Ryan to run for president.

It would be a great and fitting irony if the victory of Democratic scare tactics in NY-26 spooks other Republicans into backing off from bold deficit reform and reduction plans, which in turn forces Ryan into the presidential race—ultimately the Democrats' worst nightmare.

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