This morning at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the American Spectator, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan talked about what he's looking for in a Republican presidential candidate, reiterated he won't seek the White House, and left the door wide-open to accepting a vice presidential nomination.
Ryan said that in recent weeks he's talked to Governors Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitch Daniels, but is keeping his mind open about a potential endorsement. “I don't really have a strong preference right now," Ryan said of the prospective 2012 field. "I want to wait and see what these people are made of and what they're going to talk about.”
“To me, what matters most is someone who really has conviction in their heart and mind on these core principles," he continued. "We can't just give it to the next person in line or [have] a personality contest. We will lose a personality contest. We will win an ideas contest.”
Asked about the Massachusetts health care plan signed into law by Mitt Romney, Ryan said, “It’s not that dissimilar to Obamacare, and you probably know I’m not a big fan of Obamacare. I just don’t think the mandates work … all the regulation they’ve put on it.”
“I haven't studied in depth the status of it," he continued, "but I think it’s beginning to death spiral. They’re beginning to have to look at rationing decisions. I don’t think this health care system works. That’s why I’m a believer in a consumer-based medicine, in consumer-based patient-centered reforms health care reforms.”
Asked if he would rule out running for the presidency himself as emphatically as Chris Christie did by threatening to commit suicide, Ryan replied, with a laugh, "I guess I wouldn't talk in suicidal terms."
"I feel I can do more for the country and the cause where I am right now," he continued. "This is my focus. Like I tell people at home, my head’s not that big and our kids are just too small." Ryan went on to emphasize that he couldn't handle missing his kids on the presidential campaign trail for two years. "You would have to spend a year and a half running around the country in nice states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but they’re not Janesville, Wisconsin," he said. "Our kids are six, seven, and nine. I want to be in their lives. I’m away from them four days a week on average. I don’t want to be away from them seven days a week for two years."
Ryan seemed pretty serious that he wouldn't run, but I couldn't help but notice that he used the present tense and the phrase "right now" in his response, just as Chris Christie curiously did the other week when he said he isn't ready to run. Hmm.
Asked about running as the GOP's vice presidential nominee, Ryan replied: "I'll think about that when [it's] the time to think about that. I want to get this budget right. I want to get 2011 right, which is: we owe this country the choice of alternatives."