The presidential primary heads to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home turf of Wisconsin at a time when his name is repeatedly floated as a last-minute Republican presidential nominee. But Ryan is miles away from inserting himself into the nomination fight – both literally and figuratively. He left the country. He is in Israel, far from the presidential nominating contest.
Even in Israel on a Congressional trip, however, Ryan can’t escape the specter of the presidency. In an interview with the Times of Israel, he was asked about the prospects of being the nominee amid a contested convention.
“I decided not to run for president,” he said while in Israel. “I think you should run if you’re going to be president. I think you should start in Iowa and run to the tape.”
Ryan has been mentioned as a possible nominee if no current candidates wins the necessary 1237 delegates needed to win the nomination, leading to a contested Republican convention in Cleveland this summer.
Also while in Israel, he told Hugh Hewitt Monday, “People put my name in this thing, I said, ‘Get my name out of that.'"
“So period, end of story," he added.
But not everyone believes Ryan’s nay-saying. He said he didn’t want to be speaker of the House either. He eventually came around to the idea and has since been working to unify a factitious and raucous Republican House caucus. But amid that healing process in the House of Representatives is one that is further dividing the GOP: Donald Trump.
Throughout Trump's candidacy, Ryan has attempted to downplay the potential long term consequences Trump could have on the party divided.
He attempted to address those concerns last month by giving a speech “on the state of American politics.” He didn’t mention any candidates by name but it was clear he was talking about Trump.
“Personalities come and go, but principles – principles endure. Ideas endure - ready to inspire generations yet to be born,” he said.
He added: “What really bothers me the most about politics these days is this notion of identity politics, that we are going to win an election by dividing people.”
Ryan said he already voted in the Wisconsin primary by absentee ballot. But staying completely out of the fray, the speaker would not say who he supported.
“I’m going to keep my power dry because as chairman of the convention I really do believe that I need to be a referee, just calling the balls and the strikes and a dispassionate neutral observer,” he said last week on Bill Bennett’s radio show.
Ryan is popular in his district. Serving since 1999, he’s easily won every election. His most difficult was in 2012 when he garnered 55 percent of the vote.
Republican front runner Donald Trump campaigned in his hometown of Janesville last week, but barely mentioned the speaker.
He did, however, ask the crowd what they thought about him. When he heard boos, Trump said, “I was told to be nice to Paul Ryan. Because really?”
If Trump loses Wisconsin Tuesday, it will be a major setback in his march to 1237 delegates, which would likely cause the calls to grow louder for the Wisconsinite spending his state's election day in Israel.