WASHINGTON -- Outgoing Republican Rep. John Kline is in discussions with the GOP leadership to run for speaker of the U.S. House, but only if former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan declines to run.
Kline, who was first elected to the House in 2002, announced in September he wasn't seeking another term in the U.S. House of Representatives, would serve as an interim speaker through the rest of this Congress, which wraps up at the end of next year.
Kline is known to be a very close friend of current House Speaker John Boehner, who announced he planned to leave Congress at the end of October. Kline serves in GOP leadership and is chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
The two are known for late night talks in their offices over cigars, for Kline, and cigarettes, for Boehner.
Kline declined interviews Friday, but his spokesman Troy Young said Kline is actively urging Ryan to go for the speaker's job.
"Mr. Kline has been and continues to urge Paul Ryan to be the next speaker," Young said.
Ryan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has insisted all week that he isn't interested in the job, but he canceled all fundraisers and other events this weekend to think about it and talk to colleagues. Late Friday morning, he indicated that he was "considering" a run, according to several news reports.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen's spokesman Drew Griffin said Friday that Paulsen thinks Ryan has talent. Paulsen, R-Minn. also serves on the Ways and Means Committee
"The congressman thinks that Chairman Ryan has the talent to be an excellent speaker," he said.
Republican Rep. Tom Emmer did not comment Friday about his thoughts on Ryan.
"Congressman Emmer looks forward to upcoming discussions within the GOP Conference prior to the endorsement of a Speaker who will unify the party and continue the work of the 114th Congress," his spokeswoman Becky Alery said.
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Emmer said late Thursday, though, that he was trying to be sanguine about the future of his caucus.
"I don't think you have progress until you have a leader who acts like a leader, who behaves like a leader and says this is what we're going to do," Emmer said. "This person says, this is a new leadership in town and this is how we're going to lead this thing and this is how we're going to do it. We have 13 months."