Kristol gives Paul Ryan presidential run a 50-50 chance

Jeff Poor | Media Reporter

It may be shameless cheerleading on the part of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol or he may have some inside information on the 2012 Republican presidential horse race.

Still, on Sunday’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” Kristol made a bold prediction touting his publication’s reporting: A Paul Ryan presidential run sits at even odds. (RELATED: Kristol wants a Ryan-Rubio GOP ticker for 2012)

“Well, the main development — I can hold this up, I got sent this in the mail, the Ryan-Rubio 2012 button, which shows huge grassroots support for this effort here,” Kristol said. “People all over the country having these buttons produced at their own expense. ‘R-R’ is good for Republicans. Ronald Reagan, Ryan-Rubio. [Weekly Standard writer] Steve [Hayes] has done a lot of reporting on this. Paul Ryan is thinking of running. I think it is 50-50. I think we’ll know in a week. If I had to bet, I bet that he would run. I also think that if he doesn’t run, Chris Christie may run. I don’t think the current field is likely, it could be — but I don’t think it’s likely to be the final field.”

Former Democratic Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh questioned Kristol’s claim, suggesting it was already getting late for such a run. He also added that a Ryan candidacy would make the race a referendum on entitlement reform.

“It is getting a little late in the day,” Bayh said. “If they don’t act in a couple of weeks, just pragmatically it is tough. If I could just say one thing about Paul — he is a serious person. I admire the fact the he is focusing on entitlements. But if he is the nominee, it is going to be a referendum on Social Security and Medicare. And it doesn’t help that we have serious publications out there saying the plan would end Social Security and Medicare as we know it. People want to reform programs but get a little scared when you say you’re going to end something that has become such a part of the fabric of the American life.”

Later in the segment, Kristol explained why it isn’t too late for a candidate to jump into the race, offering the electoral success of former President Bill Clinton as proof.

“It is not that late in the game,” Kristol said. “Bill Clinton got in the race of October of 1991. Bill Clinton is the last candidate to defeat an incumbent president, a one-term president. There’s plenty of time in September and October for candidates.”

Kristol later urged Bayh to primary challenge Obama, but Bayh dismissed the possibility.

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