WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Paul Ryan, under pressure from many fellow Republicans to become the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, met Tuesday with members of the far-right faction of the party who played a key role in driving the last speaker out of office - and some think Ryan will run for the post.
“I got the distinct impression that he was leaning towards doing it, yes,” Representative Mick Mulvaney, one of the conservative Republican lawmakers who attended the meeting with Ryan, said outside the House.
“I think all indications are that he will certainly run if he can get an overwhelming majority of the Republican conference,” said Representative Mark Meadows, another lawmaker who was there.
Leading members of the House Freedom Caucus met with Ryan, a former vice presidential nominee, as the House of Representatives reconvened and turmoil resumed over Republicans’ inability to choose a new leader.
Spokesman Brendan Buck said Ryan had agreed to meet with the group at the Freedom Caucus’ request. “He’s always willing to talk with his colleagues,” Buck said.
The Freedom Caucus, which has about 40 members, was key to House Speaker John Boehner’s stunning decision to retire, announced on Sept. 25, after being badgered for months by caucus members who accused him of not standing up strongly enough to President Barack Obama, a Democrat. The caucus also helped push Boehner’s top lieutenant, Kevin McCarthy, to drop out of the speaker race.
Buck said he did not expect Ryan to make a final decision on Tuesday about whether to run for speaker.
Ryan told the Freedom Caucus members that he was going to try to lay out some ideas about what a good speaker would be and how to repair the fractured Republican conference later on Tuesday evening at a meeting of all House Republicans, Mulvaney said.
Ryan is considered the favorite among possible replacements for Boehner, although two other Republicans are announced candidates and some others have said they are considering running if Ryan does not.
Earlier Tuesday, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he hoped Ryan would be the next speaker of the Republican-majority House of Representatives.
“It appears to me that he would be one of the people over there (in the House) that would be reasonable,” said Reid, whose politics are anathema to many of the same right-wingers who battled Boehner.
Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler