On March 30, Representative Paul Ryan (R – WI) formally endorsed Mitt Romney for president four days before the primary in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. The endorsement was seen as an important step for Romney to win the state, as the 42-year old Ryan is a 7-term congressman from Janesville, Wisconsin. He is the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He is probably best known for putting forward the Ryan budget, (a.k.a. "The Path to Prosperity") for 2012, which drew high praise from fellow Republicans and negative reactions from Democrats. He is now considered a serious candidate to be chosen on Romney’s ticket, and for good reason.
Variously described as among the GOP’s brightest young stars and the GOP’s No. 1 ideas guy, Ryan would be a natural fit as the Vice Presidential candidate. Further, Ryan’s focus on fiscal austerity in his budget plan and his wealth of knowledge on fiscal and health care matters would bolster Romney’s argument that his presidency would be all about the economy and would likely excite parts of the Republican base who are fans of the young and eloquent Ryan. Also, Ryan was a natural fit with Romney when he campaigned for the future nominee in Wisconsin, which led to further speculation that Ryan could be Romney’s choice. There is little surprise that it was reported Ryan is being vetted for the VP slot.
On the flip side, there are a few reasons why Ryan would not be the ideal choice for Romney. While few would argue that Ryan would add to the campaign, he would not excite religious conservatives, a well-known problem for Romney. Further, Ryan almost appears as a sort of Romney clone; although he may prove to be a more effective campaigner in the Midwest and among the middle class, he is more of a technocrat than a candidate who is able to drum up excitement, such as Chris Christie. Finally, choosing Ryan would take away one of the most important and influential Republicans from the House, which could certainly be a double-edged sword, should Republicans either see losses in the House. or Romney’s White House bid end in failure.
Overall, I think that Ryan would be a very strong candidate. President Obama already lit a fire under religious conservatives when he announced his support of same-sex marriage, and Ryan is an effective speaker who would bolster Romney’s argument that the election is about the economy. Unlike Christie, who has started to become very divisive with his blunt speech, Ryan is more measured in his approach. In the traditional Vice Presidential role as attack dog, he would probably be more effective than someone that relies on over the top rhetoric, a la Biden. Last, and most importantly, Ryan does have plans he has put forth to help start the economy again, and would provide cover for Romney, who has been accused recently by conservative writers for not having detailed plans to get the economy moving again.
Would a Romney-Ryan duo be able to beat Obama-Biden? Ultimately that’s a question for the electorate to decide. However, Paul Ryan would be a boon to the Romney campaign.