Republican Rep. Paul Ryan announced today that he will not run for president in 2016, instead focusing on building his resume in Congress. Ryan, of Wisconsin, was the Republican candidate for vice president in 2012. There had been much speculation about his ambitions for 2016. But with the start of the new Congress last week, Ryan became chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, trade, Social Security, and health care. "After giving it a lot of thought, I've decided not to run for president," Ryan says in a statement. "Our work at the House Ways and Means Committee over the next few years will be crucial to moving America forward, and my job as chairman deserves undivided attention."
Running for president as a member of the House would be a daunting task. Only one sitting House member has ever been elected president—James Garfield in 1880. Still, Ryan has a national following. He is a favorite among conservatives for developing detailed plans for reining in federal spending. Those plans, however, have made him a villain among many Democrats and liberal groups. Just approaching his 45th birthday at the end of the month, Ryan has time to consider future presidential elections. "It's clear our country needs a change in direction. And our party has a responsibility to offer a real alternative," Ryan says. "So I'm going to do what I can to lay out conservative solutions and to help our nominee lead us to victory." (Meanwhile, his 2012 running mate Mitt Romney says he may run.)