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Washington • Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he'll drop out of the speaker's race if Rep. Paul Ryan nabs the support of the fractured GOP caucus.
Ryan announced Tuesday that he'd accept the job if his fellow Republicans would unify behind a goal and work together rather than against one other.
Chaffetz, a Republican who is one of the two publicly announced candidates to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner, had hoped the caucus would galvanize behind him when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew from the race. But he said Tuesday he's a Ryan man.
"I'm out, and I'm supporting Paul Ryan," Chaffetz said. "Part of the reason I was running was because Paul Ryan wasn't."
Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he believes that Ryan would be a better speaker, although they may disagree on some issues.
"I think our goals are very similar," Chaffetz said of Ryan.
Ryan's spokesman, Brendan Buck, notes that his boss didn't announce that he was in for sure, but the Wisconsin Republican signaled he'd be interested if the caucus came together.
"He did not announce a final decision on the speakership, but he did discuss what's necessary, in his view, for the next speaker to be successful," Buck said in an email.
Ryan told GOP lawmakers late Tuesday that he will run for speaker, but only if they embrace him by week's end as their consensus candidate an ambitious bid to impose unity on a disordered and divided House.
Dragged reluctantly into seeking a job he never wanted, Ryan spoke to his colleagues behind closed doors, telling them he will run only with the endorsement of the major caucuses in the House.
The 45-year-old Ryan gave his colleagues until Friday to express their support. The question will be whether he can win over the 35 or so members of the Freedom Caucus, who drove Boehner to announce his resignation by threatening a floor vote on his speakership and scared Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy into abruptly withdrawing from the race to replace him. The group would have veto power over the speaker's election.
Chaffetz, a fourth-term House member, said he doesn't regret his bid for speaker, arguing that there needs to be a choice between establishment Republicans and the more right-leaning flank of the GOP.
"I always knew it'd be a long shot at best," Chaffetz said, adding later that a win for speaker would have been capturing "lightning in a bottle."
The Associated Press contributed to this report