Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole: It should be Paul Ryan, not me
WASHINGTON _ Rep. Tom Cole, whose name was floated by some on Thursday as a possible candidate for House speaker, said Friday that he never seriously considered it and that he expects Rep. Paul Ryan will agree to seek the top post.
"I think in the end he will," Cole, R-Moore, said of Ryan. "He's trying to avoid it. But it's hard to say 'no' when everybody is desperate for you to do it. He's clearly the best choice."
Cole is close to Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, and his wife, Janna Little Ryan, an Oklahoma native who hails from Cole's district. Cole said he spoke to him twice personally on Thursday; both times, Ryan said he didn't want to be speaker.
Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, has pushed back against being speaker in part because of the time it would take away from his family; he and Janna have three young children.
Cole said he expected the Ryans to take on the task "because they always do the right thing in the end."
"They're spectacular people ... I just feel pretty confident that they're going to end up doing this."
Cole's name was one of a few mentioned on Thursday after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, of California, stunned his Republican colleagues by pulling out of the race to replace John Boehner, of Ohio, as speaker. McCarthy was expected to win.
Cole, who has been in the House since 2003 and is part of Boehner's leadership team, said it was flattering to have his name in the mix and to have people urge him to run.
"I just don't think it's the right thing,'' Cole said. "It's not the right for the (Republican) conference. It's not the right thing for me."
If Ryan doesn't run, Rep. John Kline, of Minnesota, may seek the job. Cole and Kline are close friends. Cole said he told Kline he would support him.
Cole said he expects Ryan to make a decision relatively quickly.