Pressure mounts on Paul Ryan to run for House speaker

WASHINGTON -- The pressure on House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan to run for speaker reached a fever pitch Friday, one day after front-runner Kevin McCarthy unexpectedly dropped out.

Ryan has made it clear he does not want the job, but Republicans say he may be the only one who can unite a deeply fractured party.

Ryan had the look of a hunted man Friday, as GOP begging turned to groveling.

Donald Trump would be "okay" with Paul Ryan as House speaker

"Right now, I'm just going to catch my flight so I can make it home for dinner," Ryan told reporters Friday afternoon as he left the Capitol.

"I did everything except carry his gym bag this morning trying to get him to do it," California Rep. Darrell Issa said.

Oklahoma's Tom Cole appealed to Ryan's sense of duty.

"I hope Paul looks inside, I hope he finds that that's the right decision for him," Cole said.

Even Utah's Jason Chaffetz -- who is running for speaker himself -- said he'd prefer Ryan.

House GOP scrambles to find next leader

"If Paul Ryan got into the race, of course I would support him," Chaffetz said. "He'd be the kind of person that I could get excited about."

Ryan's colleagues view him as articulate, smart and driven. He's cut budget deals with Democrats but still managed to maintain his conservative credibility. And as Mitt Romney's former running mate, he has a national profile.

But the Wisconsin father of three has said for years he doesn't want to be speaker.

"It's a job for an empty nester," Ryan said last month.

And there's no guarantee that the conservative hardliners who bucked Speaker John Boehner would cut Ryan more slack.

McCarthy bails on House speaker's race amid GOP upheaval

Blake Farenthold of Texas was one of several who wouldn't commit to backing him.

"I want to see who else is in the race. You don't pick a candidate until you know who all of the players are," Farenthold said.

Why would anyone want to be speaker at this point?

"That is the $64,000 question," Farenthold responded.

Ryan will have a week-long recess to think that question over. There is no plan B if he declines.

But it's hard to see how anyone could hold out against this kind of pressure. Even Romney called Ryan, urging him to run.

  • Nancy Cordes On Twitter»

    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.