Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Like a number of conservatives in Washington and 13,496 fans on Facebook, Pamela Wolffe thinks Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin should run for president. "He is my ideal candidate," Wolffe, a psychiatrist in Ryan's district, told me during last night's Wallworth County GOP boat trip on Lake Geneva, located an hour southwest of Milwaukee. "He can do anything he wants," said Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Ron Johnson of a Ryan presidential run. "That's totally up to Paul."
Ryan's popularity among Republicans has surged following his sparring matches with President Obama on health care. And as the issues of debt and the economy rank among the top of voters' concerns, now may be the moment for Ryan and his Road Map. But the 40-year-old congressman has consistently tried to quash the notion that he might run for president and did so again last night during the $50 per person fundraising cruise on Lake Geneva. "No, no there isn’t," Ryan replied when asked if there's any chance he would run for president.
"I want to be a normal person," Ryan continued. "Other people can run for that thing. Other people can’t do this," he said, pointing to one of his three young children sipping a kiddie cocktail.
Many politicians say they won't run for higher office because of their family, but Ryan really seems to mean it. "I lost my dad when I was a little kid," he said. "So I’m very sensitive to that issue. I’d be on the campaign trail in a month, and I’d be crying myself to sleep because I hadn’t seen my kids for eight or ten days. Right now, I can handle it when I don't see them for three or four days."
"As nice as New Hampshire and Iowa and South Carolina are, it’s not home," Ryan said. "I just couldn’t do it. It’s a two year deal. It takes two years minimum to run for that job, to do it right, and there’s no way I could do it."
Ryan was willing to talk up the presidential prospects of another Republican: Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. "He would be a great president," said Ryan. "He looks like your accountant, but that’s not so bad maybe." In Ryan's estimation, Daniels is the only potential GOP presidential candidate at the moment who really gets the ideas outlined in his Road Map and is willing to fight for them. "Are there [other] people who right now know these issues, have the principles, have the courage of their convictions, and are willing and able to defend them? Nobody comes to my mind," Ryan said. But he added that "any one of these guys" interested in running for president could get up to speed on the Road Map.
Asked what he thinks about Mitch Daniels' proposed "truce" on social issues, Ryan said, "I don’t see it quite the same way." Ryan thinks it's important to build a broad coalition to fight "social welfare statism," but "we don’t need to ask anybody to unilaterally disarm."
"I’m as pro-life as a person gets," Ryan continued. "You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I’m never going to not vote pro-life."
Even though the two don't see eye to eye on the idea of a "truce," Ryan is confident that Mitch Daniels would be a good president. And just to be clear, Ryan said that even if Daniels decides not to run that won't change his own decision to stay out of the 2012 presidential race.