Paul Ryan as VP Will Deliver Wisconsin to Romney

Again, we are experiencing a slew of speculation on Mitt Romney’s VP pick as reports come in that we can expect the choice to become public in days, if not hours. Wonks nationwide are monitoring their social media and RSS feeds more than ever (let’s hope they are not driving or walking in public) in anticipation that the news will come ahead of or during Romney’s weekend trip through four swing states.

While Beltway insiders are calling for or at least expecting Mitt Romney to play it safe, others claim that a bold, unexpected or potentially controversial choice could electrify what has been a lackluster campaign. The Wall Street Journal contends that Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) is that choice.

Wednesday’s editorial claims that Ryan provides a starker contrast to Obama on the topic of deficit reduction, in which Ryan has championed entitlement cuts as the path to fiscal discipline and deficit reduction. For years, the famed Ryan Budget has been posited by Republicans as the cure to all that ills the post-2008 crash economy.

While undoubtedly controversial, a Ryan pick would definitely put a charge into a campaign dogged for weeks by accusations ranging unethical business practices to tax evasion by the former governor.   

If elected, Ryan’s reputation portends that he would be a more “hands-on” type of public figure than others that have held the office.

Former Ryan staffer Stephanie Kundert told me in a July message that “Ryan would have an incredible amount of influence as our nation's Vice President - even more than his predecessors.”

Is Romney capable of making this choice of a strong ideologue? It would counterbalance his own public image.

Romney is typically a soft-spoken character with calculatingly amorphous ideas and plans. This “play it safe” strategy has worked quite well for him in his career. According to D.C. insiders, a choice like Rob Portman, former director of Bush 43’s Office of Management and Budget is at the top of the “safe” list. 

This may swing Ohio, but Portman’s resume deserves serious scrutiny. See Policy Mic’s excellent analysis by Michael Luciano for elaboration.

The Nation’s John Nichols (a fellow Madisonian) has parallel criticisms of Ryan, calling his budget plans “austerity.” Denial of this as a Republican platform is difficult, especially considering that conservatives are largely comfortable with such measures.

An adept fundraiser, Romney would be wise to go with Ryan if he plans to continue to run as the anti-Obama rather than a New England moderate. Wisconsin’s ten electoral votes would definitely be put back into play after the Badger State has been trending toward Obama recently.

Conversely, fears of another disastrous vice presidential pick by a Republican nominee may sway the campaign away from a Ryan pick. Liberal talk show host Stephanie Miller was licking her chops this morning, contending that such a choice would be Palinesque and a boon for Obama.

If a Tea Party favorite like Ryan would cause an October boondoggle for Romney, who wouldn’t do the same? Purely for the electoral math, after careful consideration, I have previously recommended that Romney pick another Tea Party darling, Marco Rubio.

Portman and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal , another shortlister, were stumping for Romney in Colorado this week.  Minnesota governor and VP contender Tim Pawlenty hit the trail this week in Michigan.

Get ready, fellow journos, the choice is coming. Definitely before the convention in 18 days, at least.

What would you do in Romney’s place? Safe choice or risky? Boring or Bold? 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Joseph Doolen

A science policy writer with professional experience writing in Washington, San Francisco and Madison, Joseph holds an MS in Biology, an MA in Journalism and is pursuing a PhD. For media organizations, he has covered San Francisco Bay Area environmental news, D.C. politics and Wisconsin state news. This year he is writing for Yale, the Obama campaign and covering AAAS in Vancouver. Joseph has done environmental work and science research in Texas and at the flagship universities of Illinois, Wisconsin and Cal-Berkeley.

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