Cliff Hanger

What Paul Ryan's vote on a fiscal-cliff deal will tell us about his political future--and the direction of the Republican Party

Marco Grob for TIME

Paul Ryan

After 88 days as Mitt Romney's vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan is back in his natural habitat: the offices of the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill. But things are not the same. Instead of poring over spreadsheets and growth projections this early-December evening, he's practicing the opening joke of his keynote speech to the Jack Kemp Foundation annual dinner, which will take place later that night. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio will receive an award for leadership at the event, an award Ryan won when it was first given last year. Because both men are potential presidential candidates in 2016, the...

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