Janesville, WI (WFRV) For Paul Ryan, the end of his run for the White House came on election night, as key swing states, Virginia and Ohio, started leaning blue - instead of red.
"Those ones being as tight as they were and next, looking like we weren't going to win," said Paul Ryan. "It became pretty clear to us that we weren't going to win."
But while losing the presidential campaign likely means the end of the political road for Mitt Romney - outside observers say for Ryan, the defeat could lead to a new beginning.
"I don't know if he covered himself with glory, but he kind of met a certain test," said Craig Gilbert, Washington Bureau Chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Just 42, many believe Ryan is on the short list for the Republican nomination in 2016. Ryan now returns to Washington after winning re-election in his First Congressional District to continue as chairman of the House Budget Committee, a position that will keep him in the public spotlight during the growing debate on the country's debt crisis - working with President Obama.
"We've offered specific plans to prevent the fiscal cliff - we haven't seen any leadership from the president yet," said Ryan. "We're going to have to find a way to find common ground to prevent this fiscal cliff from happening - to prevent this debt crisis from taking down this country."
It's the way he responds to adversity, like the death of his father at the age of 16, that has family friends positive this defeat is not the end.
"He'll go on to be every bit as successful and more successful that he's been in the past, " said Janesville attorney George Steil.
"I think everyone's tired of talking about presidential politics. I know I am," said Ryan. "I look at what I've been re-elected to do; to represent Wisconsin; be chairman of the Budget Committee; and to deal with these budget and fiscal issues. I'm going to throw myself at that work - because it's work that needs to get done. "
Ryan and other members of Congress return to the nation's capitol on Tuesday - to begin addressing the so-called "fiscal cliff."