Republican US Representative Paul Ryan, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2012, said on Monday he will not run for president in 2016 in order to focus on his new role in Congress as chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee.
Mr Ryan told NBC News he made the decision to pass up a White House bid “weeks ago,” well before his former running mate, Mitt Romney, said on Friday he was considering another presidential bid.
“I have decided that I am not going to run for president in 2016,” Mr Ryan said in a phone interview with NBC.
“It is amazing the amount of encouragement I have gotten from people - from friends and supporters - but I feel like I am in a position to make a big difference where I am and I want to do that,” he said.
The nine-term congressman from Wisconsin, said he would not endorse any other potential contenders immediately but he believes a Republican can “absolutely” win the White House in 2016.
“I think it is critical that our party puts forward bold, conservative ideas and give people a choice. I think we have a number of capable leaders who can do that,” he said.
Mr Ryan would have been a prominent contender in a 2016 Republican field that promises to be crowded and competitive. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has said he is exploring a run, and Romney told donors on Friday he was still eyeing another bid.
Other potential contenders include Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey, along with Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.
“It's clear the country needs a change in direction and our party has a responsibility to offer a real alternative,” Mr Ryan said.
As chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Ryan said, he plans to help “lay out conservative solutions that will help our nominee lead us to victory”.
Meanwhile, Mr Ryan, 44, would not rule out a run for higher office in the future, saying he plans to “keep my options open”.