WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — The House GOP conference officially selected Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Wednesday as its choice to be the next speaker of the House.
As the chamber’s conservatives cloistered in the Longworth building across from the Capitol, hundreds of media crammed into hallways, doorways and stairwells to capture videos and tweet pictures of members walking in to cast votes.
Some photographers set up hours beforehand to secure prime real estate in front of the conference’s meeting room. Woe to the latecomer who walks in front of them.
In the minutes before the 1 p.m. meeting, members like Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., whisked through the field of flashing lights, casually enjoying the moment.
But Rep. Ryan was more elusive.
The Wisconsin congressman avoided the biggest scrum lining the entryway, slipping in through a nearby stairwell, unseen by most reporters.
Producers huffed “Ryan’s in” while photogs angled for a peek through the closer door.
After more than an hour of waiting, GOP aides issued a two-minute standby.
Rank and file members streamed out, eager to feed the crowd vote counts and soundbites.
Then the big dogs cut out through the back door, sending reporters sprinting to the opposite hallway with cords and cameras tangling in the confusion.
Outgoing Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, snuck out first, ducking into a nearby hallway and avoiding cameras.
With the way clear, newly-anointed Rep. Ryan walked toward the wall of clicking cameras, trailed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who looked all but certain to be speaker just weeks ago.
Once photographers got their shots, print and broadcast press swarmed Reps. Ryan and Murphy, shouting questions and inadvertently leaving GOP Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., without a path to the press conference podium. He and other party leaders eventually found detours to the front.
With the new Republican leadership team gathered around the microphones, Rep. Ryan spoke to a lobby full of press and staff members perched on chairs and leaning over security barricades to capture the historic moment.
Some member of the GOP stuck around for a few minutes to chat with reports — and then, suddenly, the bustling Longworth building was back to normal.
The full House is expected to vote on Rep. Ryan’s speakership Thursday, bringing with it another full scale media melee.