Paul Ryan on GOP in 2012: ‘We will lose a personality contest’

Will Rahn Senior Editor
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Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said on Wednesday that a Republican would win the White House in 2012 if the race becomes a battle of ideas rather than a “personality contest.”

In a question-and-answer session at the Washington headquarters of Americans for Tax Reform, Ryan said he did not yet have a “strong preference” for the GOP nomination. “I want to wait and see what these people are made of and what they’re going to talk about,” he told a small gathering of reporters. “To me, what matters most is somebody that really has conviction in their heart and their mind, these core principles … we can’t just give it to, you know, the next person in line or (have) a personality contest. We will lose a personality contest. We will win an ideas contest, and I want to make sure it’s somebody who really has conviction and articulation of ideas.”

Ryan said that during the last two weeks he had spoken to possible 2012 presidential candidates Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “We’ve got a lot of innovative governors out there, and my assumption is a bunch of them will throw their hat in the ring,” he continued. “It’s going to be such a big field that I think it’s just too early to get involved in all of this.” Ryan noted that, in the last several months, he had spoken “every one” of the Republican Party’s prospective candidates, “some more than others.”

The seven-term Wisconsin congressman also dismissed speculation that he might himself run for president, stating his belief that he could do more for the country in his current position as chairman of the Budget Committee. He also said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another rumored presidential contender, was likewise too busy concentrating on his current job. “I highly doubt he would run,” said Ryan.