(CNN) - U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan urged his party to advance a forward-looking vision in his first high-profile speech since his failed bid for the White House alongside Mitt Romney.
The Wisconsin Republican also acknowledged that that he and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who would speak at the dinner and receive an award, are seen as 2016 presidential contenders themselves.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
Related: Rubio suggests ways to bridge 'opportunity gap'
"Know any good diners in Iowa or New Hampshire?" he asked Rubio at the beginning of his remarks. "I'm sure the press won't read too much into that."
In his remarks, Rubio replied, "I will not stand by and let the people of South Carolina be ignored."
At the Jack Kemp Foundation's award dinner, Ryan encouraged his party to find a "vision for bringing opportunity into every life - one that promotes strong families, secure livelihoods and an equal chance for every American to fulfill their highest aspirations for themselves and their children." That vision, he said, includes roles for government, private groups and free enterprise.
As he did in post-election interviews with local television stations, the former vice presidential candidate stood by the race he and Romney ran.
"Though I wish this election had turned out differently, I'm proud of the campaign Mitt Romney and I ran. He would have been a great president, and it would have been an honor to serve this country at his side," Ryan said.
"We gave this race our all, and I'm grateful for the nomination. It's thrilling when your team trusts you with the ball, and it's humbling when you advance the ball as far as you can, only to come up a little short."
He noted that President Barack Obama was returning to the White House facing "a stagnant economy and a fiscal mess." Obama has said he inherited some economic problems from his predecessor, President George W. Bush, and Ryan joked, "You might even say he'll inherit these problems."
Pointing to the Republicans' retention of their majority in the U.S. House, where he was re-elected, Ryan called on his party not to "spend the next four years on the sidelines."
But he also could be seen as distancing himself from some of Romney's controversial comments, in particular, that Obama had won by offering "gifts" to certain groups, and that 47% of voters were predisposed to vote against his candidacy. Both comments, made in private conversations with donors, drew criticism.
"Both parties tend to divide Americans into 'our voters' and 'their voters,' " Ryan said. "But Republicans must steer far clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American. I believe we can turn the engines of upward mobility back on, so that no one is left out from the promise of America. But it's going to require a bold departure from the approach that government has taken for the last five decades."
Ryan received the foundation's leadership award last year, and Rubio is the 2012 recipient. The award honors the late conservative congressman, cabinet secretary and GOP vice presidential nominee.
– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
I like Rep Ryan a lot, but after watching the convention and the election returns I think its time for the Republican party to be bold in support of its principals, and to transform itself from the perception that its the party of old White Men. My dream ticket for 2016 for the Republican party is Rubio/Martinez! Rubio is charismatic, conservative, and does a great job explaining why the Free Market makes our country great and is the true path to the Amercan dream, and who better than Gov Martinez to explain to Latinos, and actually everybody, why they really belong in the Republican party. She was amazing at the convention, and she's a real person who truly understands real people, as does Sen Rubio. Our nation may not survive 4 more years of Obama, but if we manage to we are going to be in real trouble, and desperately in need of good Government after 8 years of absolute failure and misery. Rubio / Martinez 2016!!!
Presidential candidates in 2116???.....Dream on boys....it may be a crowded field and you are SOOOOO yesterday!!..... Ryan or Rubio........now there's a choice for you????????
I think Ryan and the House GOP mis-interpreted why they retained the house. I voted for my Republican Congressman one more time in hopes that the GOP would move back center. It's a test. It's a two year test. So far the House GOP is not getting the message and not doing well., I've already contacted my House Rep and told him this is a test and next time he should not count on my vote or putting a yard sign in my yard.
A very scary thought that we will see another busload of GOP clowns in 2016, and that he will be on the bus as well.
Ryan's vision for America was discredited and rejected by voters.
Lyin Ryan is still lying and you repubs believe him., Continue on this path repubs and you will soon go the way of the dinosaurs
The Republican Party is finished ! Thank God.
Saying a few words at an awards dinner is considered a 'MAJOR Post-Election Speech'??
When you consider the amount of dishonesty that Ryan has tried to peddle I can't imagine the GOP will want him reminding them of the recent election. Sort of like not wanting us to remember George Bush. I Think he should go low profile and keep his mouth shut and head down. Maybe if he gives it enough time everyone will forget.
Great idea to concentrate on the future since the Republicans' past is such a mess.
I hope that Ryan sees the need for raising rates on the wealthiest people. It needs to be done.
Ryan must be joking he couldn't even carry his home state.
Paul Ryan speaks about aspirations while doing everything he can to trip up the aspirants. Because God forbid that anyone should ask anything of the 0.1%, including more taxes, better wages, benefits, family supporting jobs with a future *here*, health care, education, social services, a clean environment, any sense of civic responsibility... Can't have unions to demand fair play, according to Paul Ryan and his cronies; apparently the powerful who have been spending so much money to support him, so they can preserve their wealth and grab even more, are going to magically have a conversion experience once he is elected; suddenly they will care more about their fellow human beings than the bottom line of their bank accounts. Or so Paul Ryan would like you to think - pay no attention to the men behind the curtain.
With "leaders" like Paul Ryan the GOP has no future. It's just a front, and the American people are getting wise to the game they're being played for.
Not so fast Mr. Ryan! Isn't that presumptuous of you to assume you will be a contender for 2016? I will not be supporting you or anyone on the far right wing of the party. If the Republican party wants my vote, it must move back to the center and disavow itself from extreme views and individuals such as Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, etc.
Ryan is "proud of the race Mitt Romney" and he ran? A race built on lies, exagerations, secretcy? Mr. Ryan wasn't well received as a candidate for VP, why would he think people would like to see him at the top of a ticket?
A career politician...too lazy to look for a real job, and without the skillset to keep one even if he found it. Like his hero, Mitt, a career presidential candidate. May he be as successful.
Ryan might be too young to remember but 28 of the past 50 years have featured Republican Presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 42 and Bush 44). Has Reagan lost his sainthood in today's GOP?
Forward-looking agenda? From the people who constantly preach about the Founders and those good old days. Please!
How do backward-looking people develop a forward-looking agenda?
I am just tinkled pink that Romney/Ryan ran the campaign they did. The outcome could not have been better for all of us.
Paul honey, the economy is not stagnant, corporations are booming having the best quarters ever, the housing sector is bouncing back. We have gone from loosing 800,000 jobs per month to creating jobs. You guys didn't win so no worries about having the minimum wage lowered, and the middle class wont be paying for tax cuts for the rich. All is well and please shop your candidacy local not national.
Ryan could not even win in his own state. 2016 run? Please. Stay in nowhere USA. That is where he belongs.
Stop worrying about the next election and start worrying about the present and do your jobs!!!!!!
A renaissance man, if ever there was one. Statements like this from a politician are misleading at best, and a complete sham at the worst. Just think. What if all people from every walk of life looked back, as opposed to looking to the future? We'd still be living in caves, much like most republicans want in the first place. Get real. The biggest enemy to any politician, is a populace that's educated with clear memories of the past, hopefully recorded.
Good luck next time!!!
I had high hopes for Ryan and was rooting for Romney. I was sadly dissappointed with Ryan's timid and puppy dog demeanor. I cannot see him as Presidential material. Something about him that says he is not ready and does not have fire in the belly to be President. I am frankly sick of the Republicans losing everytime. They need to take a good hard look at their fellow GOP clowns that keep hurting the party.