The Wisconsin representative may have fallen short of the vice presidency in 2012, but his run gave the once-little known House Budget Committee chairman national name recognition. And he certainly seems open to leveraging it in a run for the Oval Office four years from now. Check out this paragraph from a story on Ryan in Monday's New York Times: "Contrary to his fear that a campaign would wear him down, aides said, Mr. Ryan was invigorated by the race. He particularly enjoyed his time spent in Iowa, where his wife, Janna, visited her grandmother's home for the first time in many years." It's quite the, ahem, coincidence that the one state his aides say he "particularly enjoyed" spending time is one that plays a central role in the nominating process.
In his role as Budget Committee chair, Ryan will be a major player in negotiations over avoiding the "fiscal cliff" and other policy debates with the Obama administration over the next four years. With Romney seemingly poised to exit the national stage, the self-proclaimed policy wonk is arguably the leading spokesman for the GOP's governing agenda. And he showed in the 2012 campaign that his advocacy for dramatic cuts to entitlement programs was not necessarily the electoral albatross that some Republicans feared.
It doesn't help Ryan, however, that he is a white male who could be seeking the nomination during a period when his party is desperately trying to improve its standing with female and minority voters. And the fact that he is a longtime Washington insider with little executive experience could open him up to charges that he lacks the experience necessary to run the country.