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At CPAC, Ryan talks budget but skips future of GOP

Paul Ryan — the GOP's 2012 vice presidential nominee — declined to weigh in on the direction of his party during a speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference and focused his remarks instead on the budget he authored this week

The Wisconsin congressman, who chairs the House Budget Committee, focused his remarks at CPAC almost exclusively on the budget he produced on Tuesday, the third he has written as chairman of the panel.

Ryan's budgets helped build his notoriety among conservatives, and propelled him to the spot as Mitt Romney's running mate last fall. But amid Republican soul-searching about the party's path forward, Ryan stuck to remarks about his budget — a series of proposals that are already generally popular among conservatives.

"This has been a really big week. We got white smoke from the Vatican, and we got a budget from the Senate," he joked. "But when you read it, you find the Vatican's not the only place blowing smoke this week."

Ryan's just one of several speakers thought to be possible contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Among others, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., both spoke yesterday.

Those two senators concentrated their remarks mostly on the direction of the GOP, and why — or why not — the party is in need of reinvention.

Ryan's remarks were mostly a rehash of his press conferences and media appearances in support of his budget.

"Today, I want to make the case for balance," he said. "That case, in a nutshell, is that a balanced budget will create a healthier economy."

The man whom Ryan hoped would become president this year, Mitt Romney, will address CPAC later this afternoon.