MOSINEE, Wis. (AP) — Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday he will seek re-election to the top job in the House if Republicans hold onto their majority, an outcome widely expected in next week’s elections.
Ryan’s comment comes as some House Republicans — hard-right conservatives and backers of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump — have discussed trying to oust him from his post. He became speaker only a year ago after conservatives pressured his predecessor, John Boehner, R-Ohio, into abandoning the job and retiring from Congress.
Ryan, R-Wis., was asked Friday following a campaign stop with Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson about a report in The Hill newspaper about “chatter” that he was no longer interested in being speaker.
“Nope. Not true,” Ryan said. “Don’t believe everything you read. I am interested in staying on as speaker.”
The 46-year-old Ryan was his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee and is considered a potential future presidential candidate. He has broad support among Republicans, who control 247 House seats.
The GOP is expected to lose some seats in Tuesday’s elections, with many departed lawmakers likely to be moderates. Since Ryan would need 218 votes — a House majority — to be re-elected speaker when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, that would give more leverage to the small band of dissident lawmakers considering replacing him. No Democrats would be expected to vote for him.
Ryan said he wants to keep his job to push the GOP agenda he’s been highlighting heading into Tuesday’s elections. He also denied there are any divisions among Republicans.
Some lawmakers and other strategists have wondered whether Ryan might step aside rather than risk his political career by angering conservative voters. Upcoming budget talks and the need to extend federal borrowing authority next year — perhaps after negotiating with a President Hillary Clinton — could well produce results that would upset such voters.
Some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus — the roughly 40-member group that forced Boehner’s departure — have discussed opposing Ryan. They’ve expressed worries that he won’t hold out for spending curbs in upcoming negotiations with President Barack Obama and Democrats over next year’s budget.
Others have complained about Ryan’s lack of support for Trump.
During the campaign, Ryan has criticized Trump’s statements about immigrants and others. He said he voted for Trump but has told Republicans he wouldn’t actually work to help the GOP nominee win.
Ryan dodged a question Friday about whether he thinks Clinton should be impeached if elected because of her use of a private server to handle emails when she was secretary of state.
“I’ve got a better idea. Let’s make sure she’s not elected in the first place,” he said.