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Ryan for President?

Paul Ryan is in the final stages of deciding on a presidential run.

10:18 AM, Aug 16, 2011 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is strongly considering a run for president. Ryan, who has been quietly meeting with political strategists to discuss a bid over the past three months, is on vacation in Colorado discussing a prospective run with his family. Ryan’s concerns about the effects of a presidential campaign – and perhaps a presidency – on his family have been his primary focus as he thinks through his political future.

Paul Ryan

“He’s coming around,” says a Republican source close to Ryan, who has been urging the 41-year-old to run.

“With Paul, it’s more about obligation than opportunity,” says another Wisconsin Republican. “He is determined to have the 2012 election be about the big things. If that means he has to run, he’s open to it.”

Ryan hinted at his thinking during a candid interview Friday with Charlie Sykes, an influential talk radio host in Milwaukee, telling Sykes that he was unsatisfied with the current crop of Republican candidates.

Sykes asked Ryan about state of the Republican presidential campaign. “Looking at the Republican field right now, are you confident that the candidates there are able to articulate the issues of the debt and the deficit and the need to reform entitlements in the way that you want to see done?”

Ryan laughed. “Why did you ask me that?”

“You know exactly why I asked you that question.”

“I know. We’ll see. I didn’t see it last night. I haven’t seen it to date. We’ll see. People’s campaigns evolve – they get better. So we’ll see.”

Ryan then broadened his comments. “Look, the way I see 2012 – we owe it to the country to let them choose the path they want our country to take. And I just have yet to see a strong and principled articulation of the kind of limited government, opportunity society path that we would provide as an alternative to the Obama cradle to grave welfare state.”

Sykes pressed him. “Do you think that it is absolutely essential that there be a Republican candidate who is able to articulate…”

Ryan cut him off. “I do. Because this is how we get our country back. We do it through a referendum letting the country pick the path not by having a committee of 12 people pick the path or not by having just the inertia of just letting the status quo just stumble through by winning a campaign based on dividing people.”

Sykes asked if Ryan understands why people think that person should be him.

“Well, I keep hearing that. I’m hoping that people will step up and I’m hoping that somebody – I can help them fashion this. You know my story and you know my answer – and I haven’t changed it. We’ve got a long way to go. There’s 15 months left.”

Ryan has been talking to friends and advisers about a run since last spring. Those familiar with his thinking say that he expected that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels would run. Hours before Daniels released a letter he’d sent to supporters informing them of his decision not to run, he called Ryan to give him a heads up. That phone call profoundly changed Ryan’s thinking.

One Ryan confidante used an analogy to make the point. Ryan sees running for president like taking a swan dive off a cliff. In the early stages of the race, when he started getting calls urging him to run, Ryan began walking away from the cliff at a brisk pace. Then, when Daniels announced that he was passing on a bid, Ryan stopped in place and turned around. In the weeks since, he’s slowly made his way back to the cliff and he’s now peering over the side trying to decide if he makes the leap.

There have been many hints of this in recent months. In an early June appearance on Your World with Neil Cavuto, the Fox host asked Ryan if he had changed his mind about a run. Ryan, who had been rather firm in his denials of interest, softened his hard line. “Look, I want to see how this field develops,” he said, surprising even those who had been urging him to run. “I was hoping Mitch Daniels would get into the race. He obviously didn’t do that. But there’s such a long way to go. Obviously, I believe Republicans need to retake the White House.”

When Cavuto asked if this meant he was taking another look, as Ryan’s comments suggested, the congressman said he wasn’t giving it “serious consideration because to do that you really have to get into this thing full throttle.”

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