All Eyes On Paul Ryan For Speaker

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has left the Capitol for the weekend after he received sustained pressure and encouragement from his colleagues to run for Speaker of the House.

A wide swath of Republican have reached out to Ryan, urging him to seriously consider taking a job that he has previously expressed no interest in.

Less than 24 hours after leading contender Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California abruptly withdrew his name from the election as tea party-aligned members are demanding one of their own, members scrambled to determine a path forward and Ryan's name seems to be the only person that continues to be mentioned from Republicans of all stripes.

Despite the full court press, Ryan continues to publicly deny that he will take a thankless job that could cost him a tremendous amount of political capital and a lot of time away from his young family to tend to fundraising and leadership duties.

Ryan's spokesperson, Brendan Buck, said Ryan is not running - for now.

"Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he's getting from his colleagues but is still not running for Speaker."

As Ryan left the Capitol for a flight home to Wisconsin, he refused to answer reporters' questions about the speaker job and instead joked about the Green Bay Packers.

Rep. McCarthy told reporters Friday morning that Ryan is "looking" at the speaker position but that "it has to be his decision."

RELATED: With McCarthy Out, What Next?

Ryan seems to be the only member to emerge as a consensus candidate.

Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he is open to supporting Ryan.

"I think Ryan would be more acceptable than current leadership team because he's not in leadership team," Amash said, adding that he would" provide different approach."

The Freedom Caucus, as of now however, has endorsed Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, and has no plans to do otherwise before new candidates emerge.

Webster did say he would remain in the race.

"All I want is to do what I did on Florida. Push down the pyramid of power and spread out the base. That's it," he said.

But pressure for Ryan continues to mount. He received a call from his former 2012 presidential running mate, Mitt Romney.

“I wouldn’t presume to tell Paul what to do, but I do know that he is a man of ideas who is driven to see them applied for the public good. Every politician tries to convince people that they are that kind of leader; almost none are--Paul is." Romney said. "With Paul, it's not just words, it's in his heart and soul.”

RELATED: The Pressure's on Paul Ryan

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who is also running for speaker, said he would support Ryan if he decides to run.

"Let me try to be as clear as I can, if Paul Ryan gets in the race, I am a huge fan of Paul Ryan, I would support Paul Ryan. I would hope that he would do it," Chaffetz said.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California said of Ryan: "It is very clear he is reconsidering," adding that he is going to spend the weekend talking to his family about the job that demands many days away from home because of fundraising and leadership demands.

Issa added that Ryan is "under tremendous pressure" because "he is the only candidate we can broadly agree on and get to 240 votes on the floor."

The California Republican said he would step forward "if only, only if Paul Ryan doesn't run."

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who is leading the committee investigating the Benghazi attacks and has the respect of leadership and the ideological alignment of the tea party, has also been mentioned as a possible contender said Friday that he's not receiving pressure to run. As for supporting Ryan, he said he would "unabashedly" get behind him.

Gowdy left a note on Ryan's office door labeled "Chairman for life Paul Ryan." Ryan is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a close confident of current House Speaker John Boehner, said Boehner and McCarthy have "fallen on their swords for good of the conference" by stepping back they didn't have the support of all Republicans.

"I think when you see sacrifice at that level, it demands that everybody look inside and say what can I do in this situation," he added.

Alex Moe, Luke Russert and Carrie Dann contributed.
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