For quite a while, there’s been some clamoring in Republican circles for better presidential candidates. The existing field is underwhelming and unimpressive, and party leaders have made no secret of the fact that they’d love to recruit some more compelling candidates.

About a week ago, they seemed to get their wish when Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) threw his hat in the ring. But after his third day as a candidate, when he suggest Ben Bernanke would be guilty of treason if he tried to boost the economy, many Republicans were again asking, “So, um, who else is out there?”

Most of the rumors have circulated about House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Sure, most of those rumors seem to be coming from the offices of The Weekly Standard, but the magazine has been effective in causing a minor stir about the right-wing Wisconsinite’s possible interest.

Today, Ryan once again made it categorically clear he isn’t running.

After much speculation and some pressure from fellow Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin and the House Budget Committee Chairman, says he is NOT running for President.

“I sincerely appreciate the support from those eager to chart a brighter future for the next generation. While humbled by the encouragement, I have not changed my mind, and therefore I am not seeking our party’s nomination for President. I remain hopeful that our party will nominate a candidate committed to a pro-growth agenda of reform that restores the promise and prosperity of our exceptional nation. I remain grateful to those I serve in Southern Wisconsin for the unique opportunity to advance this effort in Congress.”

I say “once again” because, as careful observers probably recall, Ryan has already ruled out a national campaign, repeatedly.

But the whispers never went away, and conservative leaders hoped that constant encouragement might prompt Paul to reconsider. Nevertheless, today’s statement may have caused audible sobbing from The Weekly Standard‘s offices, but it should mark the end of the Ryan-related scuttlebutt, at least until 2016.

As for Republicans still waiting for other saviors to come swooping in to make the presidential field more impressive, the only other names that are still in the mix are Sarah Palin, George Pataki, and Rudy Giuliani. None of the three strikes fear into the hearts of Democrats, or generates any enthusiasm from the worried GOP establishment.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.