Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, late Thursday was weighing a personal appeal from House Speaker John Boehner to succeed him, according to multiple news reports.

The Washington Post reported that Boehner told Ryan he was the only person who could unite a divided Republican House caucus.

Ryan earlier Thursday reiterated his desire not to become the next Speaker.

Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued the statement Thursday morning after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy shocked the GOP by abruptly ending his candidacy to replace Boehner, who had planned to resign.

"While I am grateful for the encouragement I've received, I will not be a candidate," Ryan said. "I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this (Republican) conference as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee."

Boehner, who wants to step down as Speaker and leave Congress at the end of October, canceled a vote of the conference.

Ryan said on Sept. 25 he didn't want to be speaker, the same day Boehner announced he was quitting the job.

Ryan said he believed McCarthy was the best person to lead the House.

"I'm disappointed in this decision," he said. "Now it is important that we, as a conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership."

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.