Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., acknowledges that he was shocked when he and presidential… (Mary Altaffer / AP Photo )
WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Paul D. Ryan returned to Congress on Tuesday, his political star rising even if his political future remains uncertain.
The Wisconsin congressman and GOP vice presidential nominee has dismissed talk of a 2016 presidential run, saying Americans are tired of politics, and he described the "shock" of losing on election night as a "foreign experience." For now, he is retaking his perch on the House Budget Committee, the venue that launched him into the presidential campaign as Mitt Romney's running mate and which also produced the austerity blueprint that defines the Republican Party.
"We thought we had a very good chance of winning. You know, the polling and the data and all the people who are the smart people who watch this stuff, they had a pretty optimistic view on the night," Ryan said Tuesday during an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC News.
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"Going into Boston that day, we felt like we had a pretty darn good chance of winning. So as you can imagine, it was a bit of a shock when we didn't win, but that's just the way these things go."
As he made his way back to Capitol Hill for evening votes Tuesday, some might have thought the former vice presidential candidate would see his once-bright future diminished by the failed campaign, one that has sent the GOP on a soul-searching exercise to determine what went wrong.
But Ryan's stature appears to have risen, not diminished, with some suggesting he is the de facto party leader.
House Speaker John A. Boehner bristled at that notion during his own interview on ABC. "I wouldn't think so," Boehner said.
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Ryan, however, was among those Boehner consulted last week as he drew support before delivering his first postelection statement on the nation's coming "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.
"I'm glad that Paul Ryan's coming back to the Congress," Boehner said. "Probably nobody in the Congress knows more about pro-growth economic policies other than Paul Ryan."
Ryan said he looked forward to playing a role during budget talks as lawmakers and the White House begin negotiations on a fiscal compromise.
But even more, he said, he looked forward to taking his daughter deer hunting when the season opened this month.
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