Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan honored a commitment to speak at the Iowa Republican Lincoln Dinner this weekend, but he hasn't made a commitment on whether he'll run for president in 2016 — and many insiders aren't so sure he will.
Ryan posed for pictures Friday night with donors before giving his 20-minute speech at the dinner, reports Politico
. Afterwards, he want back home to neighboring Wisconsin instead of hanging around the state, and he told reporters that he came to the dinner because "it was a commitment I made, gosh, I don't know...a good year ago."
There is still plenty of time left before Ryan will need to make a decision, and no candidates have officially announced their intentions yet.
But several other top potential candidates have already started making their moves in Iowa toward mounting campaigns, while Ryan has not.
For example, Iowa's outgoing state Republican Party Chairman, A.J. Spiker, announced in March he was leaving the state office to become an adviser for Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul's political action committee, reports The Hill,
in a move insiders say is a key early step for a Paul run for the White House.
In addition, reports Politico, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was in Iowa earlier this month to meet with 2008 supporters and other Republicans. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was recently in the state for a home-schooling conference.
Paul, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are all speaking at Iowa's GOP convention in June, and are reportedly setting up events to build support for their possible 2016 campaigns.
Ryan, meanwhile, is a top contender for the House Ways and Means committee chairmanship, and while he hasn't committed to seeking that spot yet, either, watchers say his actions are all geared more toward becoming the chairman of the powerful committee rather than seeking the White House in 2016.
He insists that instead of being concerned with the presidential race, he's focusing on 2014 and building up the GOP's majority in the House and that he will not decide on the presidential race until 2015.
Ryan has also been working to benefit his House colleagues, including raising money at events for their campaigns. His advisers said he brought in $1.7 million for various candidates, and $3.3 million for Republican committees, along with donating more than $500,000 to candidates through his political action committee. These are actions that colleagues will consider when it comes time to elect a new leader for the Ways and Means committee.
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who has worked along with Ryan for more than 10 years, said that if Ryan is planning to run, he should start putting together an effective strategy in Iowa, especially since it's his neighboring state.
"I don’t see signals that he is positioning himself as aggressively as some of the other people that are likely candidates," King told Politico. "He’s got a good image in Iowa, and he’s a neighbor, from a neighboring state, and he built a good image as a vice presidential candidate, [in 2012] that’s all a plus for him.
"But whether he’s ready to make that move or not, I’m not seeing those indications. I’m not seeing it by the moves he’s making by the hires, I’m not seeing it just watching the flow of interactivity here in the House, that organism that after a while you get the feel for – it’s not telling me he’s positioning himself aggressively that way.”
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