Paul Ryan Is Running a Campaign, Just Not For President

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 2:45 AM

"Let me be clear: I don't want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination," Ryan said at a press conference. But Ryan is running a campaign this fall -- one to hold his own work as House Speaker by creating an identity for congressional Republicans that's distinct from Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or whoever emerges as the GOP presidential nominee.

Paul Ryan Is Running a Campaign, Just Not For President

House Speaker Paul Ryan won't be the Republican Party'south presidential candidate, as he made clear again on Tuesday when he ruled out the opportunity of accepting the nomination at the GOP conference in July. "Let me be clear: I don't want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination," Ryan said at a press conference.

But Ryan is running a campaign this fall -- one to hold his own work as House Speaker by creating an identity for congressional Republicans that's distinct from Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or whoever emerges as the GOP presidential nominee.

Ryan is portion of a wide effort from congressional Republicans to get subtle but clear steps to cast themselves as independent from the presidential process. Ryan released a flashy online video latest week that urged Americans to avert "identity politics" and instead called for a "battle of ideas" in two thousand-sixteenth, in which conservatives and liberals have a sincere debate over which party'south vision is to best attain shared goals love economic growth. (That video stoked speculation of a Ryan candidacy, forcing him to pledge unequivocally that he'll not be a candidate.)

Identity politics is a phrase that generally refers to political appeals based on race, gender or other cultural issues. While Ryan didn't declare which politicians he viewed as practicing identity politics, Hillary Clinton has made combating racial and sexual discrimination a central portion of her campaign, while Trump has made some comments that many view as racist.

In an interview with the Associated Press published latest week, Ward Baker, who's in charge of the re-election arm for Senate Republicans, said GOP candidates should campaign as if they're "running for sheriff" in their residence states. Senate Republicans, Baker argued, should be focused on issues relevant to their local communities, not weighing in constantly on comments from the presidential candidates.

Several Republican congressional candidates, including NH Sen. Kelly Ayotte and N Carolina'south Richard Burr, told CNN this week that they were unlikely to attend the conference in Cleveland, instead spending that week in their states.

"Not running doesn't imply I'm going to disappear," Ryan said on Tuesday. "There is a huge debate going on right now. It'south about what kind of country we're going to be. As Speaker of the House, I believe I've not just an opportunity but an obligation to advance that debate."

He added, "this work provides a platform to communicate a conservative vision for our country. And I'm intent on using it. This is a critical role that's to be played and I'm in a position to play that role."

Neither Ryan nor Baker invoked the title Trump directly. But GOP strategists are very worried the genuine estate mogul, if the party'south nominee, won't only lose the presidential race but could endanger House and Senate incumbents. Trump could either depress GOP turnout, with conservative-leaning voters staying residence and therefore not casting votes in key congressional races, or alternatively, opposition to Trump could inspire heavy Democratic turnout, also resulting in Republican losses.

Republicans control two hundred forty-six of the House's four hundred thirty-five seats, so it'd require a enormous anti-GOP wave for Democrats to win control of the House. But Republicans keep only fifty-four Senate seats, and they should defend seats in Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, PA and Wisconsin, all states President Obama won in two thousand-eighth and two thousand twelve.

It'south nothing new for parties to attempt to separate themselves from their leaders. Many congressional Republicans were unwilling to campaign alongside George W. Bush in two thousand-sixth, after his poll numbers had declined. Many Democrats, particularly in more conservative areas, emphasized their opposition to some of President Obama'south policies in the two thousand ten and two thousand fourteen races.

This approach often doesn't work, since voters view the president or a nominee as the boss and representative of a political party. Republicans lost control of Congress in two thousand-sixth, and Democrats were defeated in both two thousand ten and two thousand fourteen.

Republican candidates in two thousand-sixteenth will have an even harder time distancing themselves from Cruz or Trump, since the GOP nominee will himself be on the same ballot as the House and Senate hopefuls.

Ryan'south call for a "battle of ideas" isn't purely about politics. Since he rose to prominence in two thousand-tenth, the WI Republican has urged his party to move beyond simply opposing Obama to creating a comprehensive conservative policy vision. That effort has largely failed.

Mitt Romney picked Ryan as his running mate, but didn't embrace Ryan'south ideas to totally overhaul Medicare and Social Security. Exterior of immigration, Trump seldom speaks in detail about major policy issues.

two thousand sixteen presidential candidates more aligned with Ryan'south vision, such as ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, FL Sen. Marco Rubio and WI Gov. Scott Walker, all failed to inspire voters.

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