Paul Ryan Opens the 2016 Presidential Campaign

When the books are written in 2017, the image of Paul Ryan standing with Patty Murphy to announce a budget deal will be considered the true start to the presidential race.

Sure, campaigns start the day after the election and various pols have been visiting Iowa and New Hampshire for months but that’s primarily name recognition. Ryan actually put his chips in the pot to ante and you can feel the opposition sitting up and looking at their cards and money.

A short list of pros and cons at this point. I’m trying to evaluate them along three dimensions: How does he stack up to other Republican candidates; how vulnerable is he to Democratic criticism; how will he appear to the all-important group of 20% unaffiliated in the middle?


Is positioning himself as the grown-up in the room. The general public hates Congress now and the Republicans have garnered most of the blame for grinding government to a halt. If he can look like the figure that is getting bills passed, he’ll have a golden glow.

Is extremely conservative with libertarian leanings. This is ambivalently good, given the distance the right now extends and attacks he’s already seeing from conservative conservatives, but it does offer some protection from the worst in-party attacks and appeals to a small but possibly crucial percentage of self-identified libertarian voters.

Is from a Midwestern state rather than the South. Southern Republicans have a poor reputation nationally. The South will support any Republican; it’s less clear that the other sections will.

Was the 2012 vice-presidential nominee. He lost but nobody sane blames him for Romney’s loss. He gained experience in a national campaign and most importantly, he was vetted both by Romney and the press. Christie was apparently dumped because of vetting issues. This could be huge.

Is in the majority in the House. The Republican Senators have few if any accomplishments to offer. And a Senator from the minority party has never won the Presidency. Harding, Kennedy, and Obama were all part of the majority. I think this is not coincidence but a measure of the voter looking for winners. Caveat: Primary voters may prefer a Senator who fights for their causes even futilely.


Is from the House. No House member has ever been elected President. Just to be a major party candidate is rare. I think Henry Clay is the only one. (Lincoln’s highest office was in the house, but that was a decade earlier. Ford ran for President as President.) The House has been seen as the junior body since, well since the time of Henry Clay. There’s always has to be a first one, but it seems like a considerable handicap, especially as Paul is not even part of the leadership.

Is from Congress. Congress has enormous negatives and Republican Congresspeople have even higher negatives. The party and the voters might well prefer a Governor who doesn’t have to dig out a hole this size just to be even.

Is from Wisconsin. Obama won Wisconsin by 7 percentage points with Ryan running as VP. He would absolutely have to flip the state to win the election and that seems unlikely.

Is from the liberal point of view bat-shit insane. The negative campaign industry will have a field day on Ryan’s history.

Is vulnerable to the flip-flop charge. Did you know he was for renewing relations with Cuba before he was against it? Silliness, but this will be trotted out over and over, especially in Florida.

Will constantly be confused with Rand Paul. More silliness, but it will happen.

All of this is merely a starter list. But that’s where we’re at: the start. Any realignment of the Senate in 2014 will be a huge factor. I think the odds of that are small but not 0%. But we should see who the real candidates are within a few months regardless.

James Garfield.

More publicity about his plan to voucherize Medicare is all that’s needed to spike any such ambitions. Being the Republicans’ budget guy ought to be enough by itself, though.

Garfield is an odd case. Technically he had been elected to the Senate by the Ohio Legislature but I’m not sure he ever served in Senate prior to the election.

From the official House history page House Members Who Became President or Presidential Candidates:

Well. That was something I didn’t know. (Although, unless he resigned, if he was elected in 1878 he would have still been in office as a Congressman through the election of 1880, right?)

The election was held off year, sometime in late 1879 or 1880. But I can’t quickly pin down a date or whether he moved over or held off to see how the election would dg.

As a predictor for 2016, this is an extremely minor factor so I’d ask that anyone who wants to dig deeper into this admittedly interesting footnote do so in another thread.

Hmm, apparently Patty Murray needs to make a few trips to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Someone years back posted that Paul Ryan was one to watch and he was rebuffed mercilessly. Now who was that Doper?:confused:

I’m in Wisconsin and it’s difficult to guess what the hell may happen.
In 2010 we had both sides of the legislature run by Democrats, a Dem governor, and 2 Dem U.S. Senators plus 5 Democrat House members. Almost overnight we changed to the state legislature and Governors mansion in full Republican power, a Republican U.S. Senator, and 2 Dem Congressmen booted.

Then last year the state goes for Obama and elects one of the most liberal U.S. Senators ever! The numbers in the 2 elections involving Bush were razor thin here.
I wouldn’t lay odds on any election here either way.

If he’s smart, he’ll run for Governor or the Senate as a stepping stone.

After all, there’s plenty of [del]President[/del] precedent to show he doesn’t need to serve the entire term to be able to run for President.

I agree with Chimera, but I do hope the Ryan campaign doesn’t follow this strategy.
I don’t know who will be my candidate right now, but this guy isn’t it. I’m a moderate (and yes, you may all throw rotten tomatoes at me now) but the GOP has gone so far out of center that I am at a genuine loss as to what I am supposed to call myself now. Maybe the Democrats can field some ‘conservative-centrist’ people. I don’t know.

I’m guessing you’re making a Sarah Palin dig here, although she never ran for President.

The number of sitting governors who didn’t complete a term when they ran is pretty short. I think Adlai Stevenson and Woodrow Wilson are the only ones in the last 100 years and both were at the end of their terms. Romney, Bush, Reagan, Dewey, and Landon all did for the Republicans; Clinton, Carter, Roosevelt, Smith, and Cox did for the Democrats.

Both Stevenson and Wilson were put up by party bosses. Stevenson didn’t run in the primaries, in fact. He was “drafted” by the convention. Wilson was a back room deal on the 46th ballot. Not much there in the way of usable precedent.

I’m guessing it’s a dig at Senator Barack Obama.

And I’m guessing that Exapno Mapcase is pointing out that it’s a meaningless “dig”.

Isn’t much of a dig, more of a sideways reference. Just pointing out that having the title of Governor or Senator is all that matters, not how long one has served in that position.

I still wouldn’t vote for him though.

Paul Ryan will run but he won’t win. He’s trying to have it both ways right now, looking bipartisan in this budget deal but at the same time announcing that somehow the president owes him concessions for paying the bills that Congress rang up. On one side of his mouth he offends the True Believers, on the other side of his mouth he offends the endangered species known as Republican moderates.

I suspect his “grown up in the room” cred will go down the toilet now that he is threatening another debt ceiling standoff over Obamacare.

You need to keep separate what he says and what he does. He’s now on a damage control tour among tea party voters. He’s going to keep saying things that they want to hear.

But the House has already voted overwhelmingly for the bill. And the Senate is going to pass it as well because a number of Republican Senators have already said that they want to see it passed.

H’s obviously positioning himself for relevance in February when Boehner takes the point on debt negotiations. If he can make himself look good to Republicans conservatives and far-right conservatives then he wins both ways.

It would be interesting to hear him defend The Working Families Flexibility Act in a debate. It’s Ryan’s pet plan to allow employers to give compensatory time off (at the employer’s discretion) rather than time and a half for overtime (over 40 hours/week.)

According to the bill, it’s at the employee’s discretion.

Yes, it does seem that way. The last time I was reading about it one of the complaints was that the time off could be denied if the employer didn’t feel like they could spare you. Is it possible that it’s been reworked in the latest edition?
In any event I should have read it more carefully before linking it.

Ignorance fought.