Rep. Paul Ryan will hit the road to help the Republican National Committee raise $20 million for the eventual GOP presidential nominee, connecting him with a national donor network that could prove valuable in a future campaign for higher office.
Ryan’s decision to lead the RNC’s Presidential Trust fundraising program is notable given his typical aversion to political travel. In fact, his desire to spend weekends and recess periods at home in Wisconsin with his wife and young children is among the reasons why the conservative folk hero declined to run for president in 2012 or pursue a political leadership position in the House Republican Conference in past years.
Sources close to Ryan and the RNC confirmed that the Congressman would take an active role in the committee’s premier fundraising program. As opposed to simply signing his name to fundraising appeals, Ryan is expected to spend a significant amount of time traveling to headline events targeting major donors and other contributors as well as on the phone dialing for campaign dollars.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said last week when announcing the decision that getting the House Budget chairman on board is “a big win for our party.”
“Paul is a visionary leader for our party, and it is fitting that he play a crucial role in the upcoming election where our nation’s future hangs in the balance,” Priebus said.
National party committees may legally spend about $20 million each in direct coordination with their presidential nominees, meaning, essentially, that the White House campaigns can dictate how the money is spent. The amount of funds that national party committees may spend in direct coordination with their presidential nominees is capped under federal law and adjusted upward each cycle per inflation. The limit in 2008 was $19.2 million, and it is expected to rise to about $20 million when it is reset early next year.
Ryan over the past few years has raised his national profile as his party’s most prominent spokesman on budget and economic issues.
Although the Congressman said earlier this year that he would not run for president, he took time in August to reconsider after receiving encouragement from major GOP figures and party insiders.
Along with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Ryan also has led the Young Guns program, which recruits GOP House candidates and raises money on their behalf. Priebus, the former chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, has an existing relationship with Ryan, another reason why he was an obvious choice.
A Republican operative familiar with Ryan’s thinking said the House Budget chairman’s close friendship with Priebus was a major influence in his decision to accept the appointment. The operative cautioned against seeing Ryan’s move as laying the foundation for a future bid, indicating that family time remains his priority.
“It’s just the connection to Reince. And in the Republican ranks, the [RNC] is one of the top brands out there,” the GOP operative said. “Is there some residual value with the major donors? Yes. But did that go into some long-term plan for Ryan? No. He still doesn’t think in those terms.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.