Could Paul Ryan be the dark horse GOP presidential nominee?

That's the talk in Washington this week: Paul Ryan rides in to win a brokered convention. It kind of makes sense, but only if you don't analyze it too closely. 

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin leaves the House Ways and Means Committee room on Capitol Hill in Washington last month.

Is House Speaker Paul Ryan going to emerge from a contested GOP convention as the party’s nominee for president?

That’s the prediction made by insider Republican sources in Politico on Monday. One calculates that there’s a 60 percent chance of a convention deadlock, and a 90 percent chance that delegates will then turn to Mr. Ryan – not Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, or Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Ryan is more ambitious than he lets on and realizes that denying he wants the nomination is the only way to get it, in this view.

“If he was seen to be angling for it, he’d be stained and disqualified by the current mess,” writes Politico’s star tipsheet author Mike Allen.

That’s why he keeps saying he’s not seeking the office. Ryan did that again on Monday, telling Hugh Hewitt in an interview that “I’m not running for president period, end of story.”

Hmmm. Is this plan so crazy it just might work? If it really is a plan.

After all, Ryan is the one guy who appears able to unite Republicans. He’s acceptable to the establishment types and the hard-core conservatives. He’s already been vetted due to his spot on Mitt Romney’s 2012 ticket.

Plus, he’s done the deny-then-accept thing before. After Speaker John Boehner quit, Ryan – then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee – said he was happy where he was. He said he did not want the hassles and workload of being speaker.

He’s young. He’s rested. He’s (maybe) ready. To those members of the party elite who are desperately searching for a way to stop Trump, it all seems to make sense.

Except, we tend to take Ryan at his word on this one. While the idea kind of makes sense if you squint and look at it quickly, further perusal with open eyes lessens its appeal.

For one thing, it would rip the party asunder. Trump supporters would be outraged. So would Cruz supporters. In a contested convention, would delegates really bypass the two top vote-getters of primary season in favor of someone who didn’t even run?

After all, many GOP voters appear to be angry with their own party establishment, which they feel ignores them. A Ryan nomination might prove their point.

“This Paul Ryan boomlet is cray-cray. 65% of Rs have voted for 2 cands – Trump & Cruz – who rail agsnt establishment &DC. Not happening,” tweeted Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report, on Monday.

Also, if Ryan really is an ambitious, canny politician, he shouldn’t want the nomination under such contested circumstances. Trump could well go third party, and even if he doesn’t, many of his voters would likely stay home in disgust. It seems like a good way for the Republican candidate, whoever they are, to lose.

Staying speaker is the better choice. You’ve got a national platform and a good chance to influence the nation’s fiscal direction.

Unless nominee Trump craters so badly that the GOP loses the House and you’re not Speaker anymore. Hmmm....

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