Days after House Speaker Paul Ryan categorically declared that he did not want and would not accept the Republican nomination for president, it’s becoming clearer how the Wisconsin lawmaker will be spending the rest of 2016.
Reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission show that Ryan raised $17.2 million in the first three months of the year. Over $11 million of that went to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign wing, smashing the $7 million record set by Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, in the second quarter of 2012.
The infusion of cash will be used to keep the House in Republican hands by shoring up vulnerable members who could get swept away in the November election if Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) is at the top of the ticket. The latest polls show either candidate would yield disastrous results down the ballot.
Ryan, who grudgingly accepted the speaker’s gavel last year, wants to enact major reforms to taxes and entitlements during his tenure, but he won’t be able to realize any of those plans if the GOP majority is swept away in a Democratic tidal wave.
It’s likely then that the Wisconsin lawmaker will continue to serve as his party’s fundraiser-in-chief as Election Day draws closer.
At the same time Ryan is working to keep the Republican Party financially viable heading into November, he is also taking a step back from the chaotic GOP presidential primary.
Despite repeated pledges to stay out of the fray of the campaign, Ryan has forcefully commented on the race several times, often to denounce the latest controversy from Trump, the frontrunner.
Those admonishments, coupled with the release of a slick video of a recent speech in which he called for a “battle of ideas” to replace “identity politics,” sent such a mixed message about the speaker’s own presidential aspirations that Ryan had to give a Shermanesque statement earlier this week to quash rumors that he secretly wanted the GOP nomination.
On Thursday, Ryan was content to stay on the sidelines for the latest fight between the Republican Party and Trump. The real estate mogul has been decrying the presidential delegate system as unfair following Cruz’s recent win in Colorado, a victory credited to the Texas senator’s superior campaign organization.
“It's up to the states to decide that. Every state has their own process for doing it. I'm familiar with my own state. I'm really not that familiar with other states. So again, that's not something that we are involved in. That's not our choice. That's the state's choice,” Ryan, who will serve as the chair of the Republican National Convention, said during his weekly press conference.
“I am not going to comment on the day-to-day, in-and-out of the presidential campaign on these issues,” he added, noting that the convention’s rules committee “will set the rules and we will follow the rules by the book. And we are not at the convention yet.”