Ryan made no reference to the 2012 campaign in his speech Friday, instead focusing on congressional efforts to tame the deficit. His speech pointed to his professed interest in policy matters rather than future national campaigns.
Other 2012 presidential contenders, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, appeared at the conference to help maintain their place in the national conversation as the Republican Party looks for leadership.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who excited many conservatives before withdrawing from the 2012 presidential contest, questioned the conservative credentials of the GOP's last two presidential nominees.
Walker, who won conservative admiration for challenging his state's labor unions, said that Republicans "need to be relevant" by shifting their focus away from Washington debates and to the issues facing middle-class Americans in the states.
He told The Associated Press late last month that a 2016 presidential bid "would be an option," although it wasn't something he was "actively pursuing."
Walker's comments illustrate a dance the potential presidential candidates undertake as they contemplate their political futures.
Paul has said he's "seriously considering" running for the White House. But others have been more circumspect.
Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, has avoided such questions and instead continued his central role in one of Capitol Hill's most significant policy debates.
Jindal laughed off questions about his future. "Any Republican that's thinking about talking about running for president in 2016 needs to get his head examined," he said last month. "We've got a lot of work to do."
- Pope in blistering critique of Vatican...
- NYPD: Cop ambush killer told passers-by to watch
- 9 films advance in Oscars shortlist for best...
- 2 cops in New York City ambushed, fatally...
- The Associated Press' top 10 movies of the year
- 'Hobbit' goes out on top with $90.6 million...
- 10 years on, where did all the tsunami debris...
- Killings of 2 New York officers trigger backlash
- Obama: US re-establishing diplomatic... 49
- Vermont governor abandons single-payer... 33
- Forget Santa Claus, Virginia. Was there... 18
- Police boss: NYC cops 'quite simply,... 17
- A post-election flurry: Obama tests his... 16
- Sony cancels 'The Interview' Dec. 25... 15
- NYPD: Cop ambush killer told passers-by... 13
- NYC premiere of Rogen film 'The... 8