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Paul Ryan's Second Act

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Via the Weekly Standard: A lot of folks don't seem to want to take "no" for an answer.

Paul Ryan's fans don't want to take "no" for an answer.


"I'm a truck driver,” announces the first constituent to question Ryan at a townhall meeting in the congressman's hometown of Janesville. “And in March and April, when I was in Iowa and Minnesota, when people found out I was from Wisconsin, there was a lot of enthusiasm for Paul Ryan--unsolicited. And along with the president of Hillsdale College I'm going to hold you responsible if Obama wins reelection because we don't have a qualified candidate."

Later, a woman at a meeting in Elkhorn rises to speak of the challenges facing the nation. "We need a clone of Paul Ryan" in the White House, she concludes, to right our nation's course.

An elderly veteran, one of his final questioners at his final townhall on Friday afternoon in Kenosha, sounds a little curmudgeonly when asking Ryan to do more to help young veterans get jobs and expand domestic energy production. The man is pleased with Ryan's answers, but the agitation in his voice rises during his final question.

"Why don’t you run for president and lead us out of this mess?"

In response to these questions, Ryan thanks his fans for the sentiment, but the typically articulate congressman brushes off their pleas without much explanation.

During the 45-minute car ride from Elkhorn to Kenosha, I hand Ryan the New Hampshire presidential primary filing form. We're about three hours away from the filing deadline, but all it takes to get him on the ballot is a signature, a $1,000 check, and a non-stop private jet flight from Kenosha to Concord (funded by, say, one of those billionaire puppetmasters that preoccupies the imagination of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow).

Ryan reads the form and laughs along with his chief of staff Andy Speth, who is driving Ryan's Chevy Suburban. I rattle off some of the flaws of the current candidates and ask him if Republicans disappointed with the field are wrong to be disappointed. "You think I'm going to answer that question?" Ryan replies. "The field we have is the field we're going to have. It's not going to change."

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