Despite the fact that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are the three remaining candidates in the running for the Republican presidential nomination and — if things go their way — the White House, a fourth name keeps coming up that hasn’t been on the ballot in any state primaries or caucuses. That name is Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House and the highest-ranking Republican official currently working in the federal government. The Wisconsin representative has made it clear that he isn’t campaigning for the Republican nomination, but a new video posted to his official YouTube account suggests otherwise.
In the 43-second clip, titled “Politics These Days,” Ryan gives ambiguous comments criticizing American partisan politics to an audience of House interns:
“What really bothers me the most about politics these days is this notion of identity politics. That we’re going to win an election by dividing people, rather than inspiring people on our common humanity, and our common ideals, and our common culture, and the things that should unify us. We all want to be prosperous, we all want to be healthy, we want everybody to succeed, we want people to reach their potential in their lives. Now liberals and conservatives are going to disagree with one another on that. No problem. That’s what this is all about. So let’s have a battle of ideas. Let’s have a contest of whose ideas are better and why our ideas our better.”
Ryan says all of this while name-dropping his office’s “Confident America” initiative. (There’s even a hashtag for it, #ConfidentAmerica.) Among other things, this plan — by which “House Republicans are developing a bold, pro-growth agenda to take to the country” — includes a series of platforms that read an awful lot like a “Positions” page on the Trump, Cruz or Kasich campaign websites. Topics include “National Security,” “Job and Economic Growth,” “Health Care,” “Poverty and Opportunity” and “Constitutional Authority.” Each is supported by text and links that mostly condemn President Barack Obama’s administration and, by extension, the Democratic Party.
Sure, #ConfidentAmerica is supposed to be a campaign for the House Republicans, but the manner in which the video focuses on Ryan looks less like a group effort and more like an individual campaign ad. And despite his public comments to the contrary, the video only feeds ongoing speculation that the upcoming GOP convention in Cleveland will implode, and that delegates unhappy with the current choices will flock to Ryan.
Both Talking Points Memo and MSNBC have the same idea about Ryan’s potential as a post-convention Republican presidential candidate after seeing the video. Or as Vanity Fair opined two days before the non-ad’s release, “Ryan has been doing everything one would expect if he were indeed positioning himself to be drafted for the role.”
Washington Post national politics reporter Robert Costa, who reacted similarly to the video, spoke with Breitbart Friday morning about how the “party elite” could be working to make Ryan’s nomination happen behind the scenes:
“I think Ryan is putting himself out there as a national political figure that people can point to beyond the presidential campaign as a face of the Republican Party,” Costa told [Stephen K. Bannon]. “Based on my reporting, I don’t see any kind of overt or indirect movement toward a presidential bid. But certainly, he is someone celebrated by party elite and conservative figures as someone that could step in in a chaos situation in Cleveland.”
Ryan was previously in the running for the vice presidency when he campaigned with Republican nominee Mitt Romney against Democratic incumbents Obama and Joe Biden in 2012.