Most of the media presented the aftermath of the Ames Straw Poll as a newly clarified field of candidates. The 2012 ranks were rid of Tim Palwenty, the bland guy nobody liked who couldn't stand up to Mitt Romney. The field gained a new cartoon political superstar in the form of Rick Perry. Michele Bachmann was anointed anew with frontrunner juice (with a hint of "diva" backlash brewing in the background). And Ron Paul's second place finish was dismissed, despite the obvious influence his long-held politics were having over the race.
And all of that "clarity" lasted ... oh, you know ... a few hours. And then, suddenly, things weren't clear anymore.
Since then, we've had Karl Rove -- of all people -- warning about the GOP field growing too extreme (by which he actually means, "too full of Rick Perry," whom Rove hates).
Now, we're firmly back in "somebody send us a savior" territory, with the air full of rumors that various "candidates to be named later" are poised to become "candidates to be forming presidential exploratory committees very soon."
For example: "Paul Ryan needs to run for President," say some people! Yes, despite the fact that Ryan (R-Wis.) enjoys enormous influence over the political landscape from his easy-to-defend House seat, it seems that your "Paul Ryan should run for President" boomlet is not going to go away anytime soon.
Earlier this week, the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes floated the notion that Ryan was "strongly considering a run for president." That was followed by metric ton of rumors and further insistences along the same lines. And now comes the news that Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush -- two men who have previously found their names on the 2012 wishlist -- "promoting" the notion of a Ryan run in the GOP primary. Tim Alberta at the National Journal's HotlineOnCall has the details:
Despite passing on a presidential bid of his own, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels still wants to play a role in the race -- by promoting the potential candidacy of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
According to a report in The Weekly Standard, Ryan was originally urging Daniels to run for president, but ever since the Indiana governor decided against it, the tables have turned.
"I don't think it's a secret that he was strongly encouraging me to try. I've been strongly encouraging him to run as well," Daniels said. "He has all the qualities our party needs to be emphasizing in these election."
Daniels rejected the notion that Ryan missed his chance to run by waiting too long, citing the instant buzz surrounding Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recently-launched campaign. "It's not too late. If it's not too late for Rick Perry, it's not to late for Paul," Daniels said. "I'm a more-the-merrier kind of guy about the primary field. Absolutely there's time."
Daniels isn't the only prominent Republican on the Ryan bandwagon. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush also boosted a possible Ryan candidacy, telling the Weekly Standard he would be a "formidable candidate."
There's something comical about watching two guys who want nothing to do with the 2012 race try to pressure a third person who wants nothing to do with the 2012 race to get into the 2012 race.
But Ryan is not alone in the 2012 rumor grinder. Also caught in its clutches is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Earlier today, Bloomberg's Jonathan Alter tweeted this scooplet: "BREAKING: My sources say NJ Gov. Chris Christie is conducting focus groups in preparation for a possible run for president in 2012."
Christie and Ryan have another thing in common: Their camps keep issuing stern denials! Ryan spokesperson Kevin Seifert responded to Hayes' story by saying, "His mind hasn't changed ... He's not planning to run for president ... There's nothing new to this." Christie's camp has been pretty clear as well:
A Republican close to Chris Christie says the pressure is intensifying on him to join the presidential race but insists that the New Jersey governor's mind has not changed.
"I think that anybody could change their mind, but I don't see any evidence of that," the source told CNN Wednesday. "They continue to be pestering him and urging him to run."
The source said the pressure on Christie "ratcheted up" on the aftermath of the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, which effectively forced former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty out of the race.
So, the GOP establishment is not happy with the field. And the media is already bored of covering Rick Perry. Everyone wants to play with something shiny and new! And so, these rumors won't go away anytime soon.