WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan has a message to everyone in the political chattering class who's speculating that he might emerge as the Republican nominee from a contested convention and save the party from front-runner Donald Trump: "Knock it off."
The Wisconsin Republican, thrust into the speakership after predecessor John Boehner was squeezed out, said Thursday that he is not interested in being the savior of a GOP establishment appalled by Trump. The 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee reminded reporters that he decided more than a year ago to take a pass on a presidential bid.
"It is not me," Ryan told reporters. "I thought I was pretty clear."
To be sure, Ryan only addressed the idea that he might be named by a brokered convention when asked by the media. He directed his political operation to threaten legal action against a so-called super PAC that was raising money and collecting email addresses in support of an effort to draft him.
Ryan himself stoked speculation on Tuesday in an interview with CNBC's John Harwood in which he failed to slam the door on the idea.
"You know, I haven't given any thought to this stuff," Ryan told Harwood. "People say, 'What about the contested convention?' I say, 'Well, there are a lot of people running for president. We'll see. Who knows?'"
Wrong answer. It sparked a fresh set of speculative media stories.
Then, on Wednesday, after fresh primary results that kept alive the idea that Trump may not arrive in Cleveland this July with enough delegates to win the GOP nod on the first ballot, Boehner entered the picture.
"If we don't have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I'm for none of the above," Boehner told the Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida on Wednesday, according to Politico. "They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I'm for none of the above. I'm for Paul Ryan to be our nominee."
Boehner's remarks cued a fresh round of denials — stronger this time — from Ryan and his camp.
But on Thursday, the question was the first one asked of Ryan at his weekly news conference. This time he sought to slam the door.
"Let's just put this thing to rest and move on," Ryan said.
The selection of an establishment candidate at a contested convention would infuriate Trump supporters, and the candidate suggested on Wednesday that riots could ensue.
Ryan's message to Boehner?
"I saw Boehner last night and I told him to knock it off," Ryan said. "I used slightly different words."