Reading Between the Lines on Paul Ryan's 2016 Denials

He's made repeated statements saying he isn't interested in being president.

Here's a review of what he calls two "different" situations:

That Time When Ryan Denied Calls Before Accepting

Many have pointed to Ryan's reluctance to immediately accept the speakership back when his name first came up following Boehner’s retirement last September as a reason to question his statements about 2016.

On the day House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his name from consideration for Boehner's job, Oct. 8, Ryan, the then-House Budget Committee chairman and former 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, said that he was "disappointed" in McCarthy's decision and called for new candidates, but didn't put himself in the running.

"While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate," Ryan said in a statement.

Three weeks later, he was sworn in as speaker of the House after another alternative to McCarthy failed to materialize.

Ryan’s Denials About 2016

“There are people out there campaigning. That’s who should be president,” Ryan told reporters last month. "Let’s just put this thing to rest and move on.”

"Get my name out of that," he said of the speculation in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt from Israel earlier this week.

Ryan's political operation moved quickly to shut down a nascent "Draft Ryan" for president movement in March, disavowing the group and threatening legal action.

Ryan appeared to be suggesting a distinction between the jump from being a rank-and-file House Republican to Speaker, and the jump from not even being a presidential candidate to becoming the GOP nominee.

On Thursday, Ryan's office came out most forcefully against the possibility of a presidential run in a Shermanesque statement -- a clear and direct statement from a candidate definitively saying he/she will not run for a particular position -- from spokeswoman AshLee Strong: "The speaker is grateful for the support, but he is not interested. He will not accept a nomination and believes our nominee should be someone who ran this year."

The term originated with Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who didn't want to be nominated in the 1884 election, telling supporters, "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

Fueling the Fire

The release of the campaign-style video from Ryan -- who remains one of the most popular Republican figures in the country -- comes as Republicans grapple with the implications of a likely contested convention.

"What really bothers me the most about politics these days is the notion of identity politics -- that we're going to win this election by dividing people, rather than inspiring people," Ryan, who has periodically commented on the presidential race out of concerns about damage to the GOP brand, says in the video.

Boehner said recently that Ryan should be Republicans' pick for a nominee if the party is unable to select a candidate on the first ballot, though he later walked back that comment through a spokesperson.

Ryan’s predecessor isn’t the only one looking to the 46-year-old for hope.

"[Ryan] does represent the kind of vision and values that as a Republican you would want to put forward," Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said in a C-SPAN interview last month.

Despite the denials, all eyes will once again be on Ryan when he returns to Washington, D.C., from overseas next week.