WASHINGTON - Republican Paul Ryan firmly ruled out a 2012 U.S. presidential bid Monday, ending another round of speculation the congressman would make a late leap into the race.
The Wisconsin representative had been one of several possible candidates urged to jump into the 2012 Republican race by party insiders unhappy with the current crop of candidates for the right to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama.
Despite repeated denials of interest in a presidential bid, speculation about Ryan's candidacy grew in recent weeks amid media reports he was reconsidering his stance.
"I sincerely appreciate the support from those eager to chart a brighter future for the next generation," Ryan said in a statement. "While humbled by the encouragement, I have not changed my mind, and therefore I am not seeking our party's nomination for president."
Ryan, chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, became a favorite of conservatives this year when he put forth a budget plan that would severely cut spending and overhaul the Medicare health program for the elderly. The plan also became a target of criticism from Democrats.
He stoked the speculation about his intentions with recent radio comments that he did not see any Republican candidates offering an alternative to Obama's "cradle-to-grave welfare state."
A Republican presidential field led by Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann has not satisfied some party activists who still hope candidates like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin get in the race.
"I remain hopeful that our party will nominate a candidate committed to a pro-growth agenda of reform that restores the promise and prosperity of our exceptional nation," Ryan said in his statement. (Editing by Peter Cooney)
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