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Paul Ryan on damage control

Paul Ryan continued his tea party damage control on Monday, speaking out in favor of the GOP’s far-right faction on the heels of John Boehner's rebuke.
Congressman Paul Ryan
Congressman Paul Ryan.

Paul Ryan continued his tea party damage control tour on Monday, speaking out in favor of the GOP’s far-right faction.

"I for one see these groups, so to speak, particularly grassroots conservatives, as absolutely and just monumentally important to this fiscal conservative agenda," Ryan told a Wisconsin radio station.

And this GOP civil war people keep talking about? "I don't think it's that serious," Ryan told host Charles Sykes, despite House Speaker John Boehner’s fiery condemnation of conservative groups like Heritage Action and FreedomWorks for opposing the new budget deal. 

"I think John's emotions got ahead of him a bit," Ryan said of Boehner's outburst.  "I credit the tea party with helping get our mojo back," he said, adding that the groups are "absolutely essential" to the Republican agenda.

It’s a sweet spot for Ryan, who many think will make a bid for the White House in 2016. He's welcoming back in the groups that tried—and failed—to take down his budget deal, bolstering his leadership and possibly even his credentials with tea party groups ahead of a possible national run.

Last week, Boehner lashed out at tea party groups for opposing Ryan’s budget deal before it had even been announced.  “They’re using the American people for their own goals,” he said. “This is ridiculous. Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”

Ryan's budget deal—negotiated with Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray—reduces the deficit while replacing some of the sequester cuts. It passed the House with overwhelming support last week and looks like it will pass the Senate, which will begin voting as early as Tuesday. 

Paul began his damage control tour earlier on Sunday, when he praised tea party allied groups as "indispensible." 

“They're part of our conservative family," he said on Fox News Sunday.  "I'd prefer to keep these conversations within our family." 

Whether or not Paul's budget compromise will hurt or help him in a potential 2016 bid is yet to be seen. 

"When it comes to the presidential nomination in 2016, tea-party activists are going to look at who has been true to our core principles, and this budget deal is not," Tea Party Patriots' co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said following the announcement of Ryan's deal. "It's something Paul Ryan is going to have to explain."

But Republican voters may not feel the same way. In the key primary state of Iowa, Ryan topped ten other Republican candidates in a recent popularity poll.