A tantalizing item in The Hill is sure to prompt much speculation:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made a foray Tuesday into the GOP presidential race, asking for donations to launch ads in Iowa defending his 2012 budget, and Republican presidential candidates’ support for it.
Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, sent an email through his political organization, the Prosperity Project, to push back against a campaign led this week in Iowa by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to frame GOP presidential candidates as extremists.
“The DNC is attacking all of the candidates for their support of my Path to Prosperity budget,” Ryan wrote in an email. “We have to fight back. With your support, I’m planning on launching a counter-attack to educate Iowa voters about the Path to Prosperity and how it’s the only plan currently on the table that saves Medicare.”
The email is the first visible sign by a House or Senate Republican leader to affect the race for the Republican nomination. Ryan didn’t endorse any particular candidate, and sought to bolster the field as a whole in Iowa, the state hosting the first nominating contest of the 2012 cycle.
“The 2012 Presidential Election is a critical opportunity to establish our priorities of cutting spending, eliminating deficits, paying down the debt, and restoring economic growth,” Ryan wrote in his email. “With Iowa’s important role as an early state in the political process, I hope you’ll recognize the need to take our fight there right now.
Maybe Ryan is just trying to make sure his plan has an influence on the GOP 2012ers. Or perhaps he is sowing seeds in the key caucus state for a 2016 run. Or both. And who could blame him for wanting to defend his much-attacked and much-distorted policy proposal.
But the current field still seems unsettled enough that Ryan probably yet has a window to jump into the race. Betting markets, for instance, have Mitt Romney and Rick Perry more or less tied at 33 percent. I would imagine Ryan, currently at 1 percent, would be running roughly even with those guys the day after he announces … if he announces, which I still doubt he will. But if Rick Perry can get into the GOP race in mid-August and be seen as viable, Ryan could certainly wait until September.