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Where Will Ryan Go?

Politicoreports on the possible future for Paul Ryan in the event of a Romney loss:

There is a chance that Ryan would leave the House to make money and perhaps teach, setting the stage for a 2016 presidential run of his own. He clearly enjoyed the national stage and showed a natural ease on the stump. But he also showed his limitations, especially on foreign policy and other issues outside his comfort zone.

It’s a curious idea that Ryan’s departure from the House would “set the stage” for a future presidential run. Pretty much the only thing that propelled Ryan to national prominence was his position as Budget Committee Chairman, and if he were to leave that position he would quickly be relegated to the ranks of second-tier Republicans. Unlike, say, Mike Pence, who left the House to go on to seek statewide office, Ryan would become much less influential and relevant in the GOP if he left the House. That doesn’t mean that remaining in the House ensures that he would succeed as a presidential candidate, but it makes it a lot more likely than if he doesn’t.

A Romney loss on Tuesday most likely spells the end of any presidential ambitions Ryan may have had. That doesn’t mean that Ryan’s career has to be limited to the House. The good news for him is that an increasingly likely Thompson loss creates an opening for a future Senate bid later in the decade. If Thompson were to win, Ryan’s options in Wisconsin politics would be very limited, and it is probably the case that Ryan won’t be a national contender in his own right until he is able to contest and win a statewide Wisconsin race. It’s one thing for partisans to enthuse over a House member as VP nominee in the middle of an election, and quite another to back him as a presidential candidate.

Losing VP nominees almost never come back to win their party’s nomination, and when they do it usually takes a long time between their first campaign and winning their party’s nod. Some losing VP nominees have tried to come back in the very next cycle, and that never goes well. The best advice for Ryan would be to stay in the House for now, gain more credibility on issues besides matters related to the budget and entitlements, and not make a run at the presidential nomination for a while.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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