No doubt, the debate over the wisdom of Governor Romney’s selection of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee will ensue. Here are the top ten reasons why I like his pick:
1. Budget Wonk: Both sides of the political spectrum respect this man’s knowledge of the economy and the budget. Rumor has it, if he doesn’t succeed in becoming vice president, his other aspiration is to be the future Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a role that both sides agree would suit him well.
2. Wisconsin Native: Romney will want to make Wisconsin a metaphor for his willingness to tackle the major fiscal issues of the nation, like Governor Scott Walker and Paul Ryan. A Wisconsin native only adds to that message, and I would guess that Romney really wants to win Wisconsin; and having a Wisconsinite on the ticket (albeit one who has never won statewide) can only help him win the badger state
3. He’s a Midwesterner: Ryan’s ethos exudes midwestern charm and he can use his background to appeal to crowds across the all-important battleground states of the Midwest. I can easily see him screaming O-H-I-O at a rally in Columbus or chatting about corn prices at a county fair in Des Moines, Iowa.
4. Not a Firebrand: While he is passionate about his views, he doesn’t come across as an emotional lunatic. He is very comfortable expressing his views in a calm and lucid manner and that could be very attractive to moderate voters.
5. Ryan Budget: Granted, this could be Ryan’s weakest point as it could be construed as his attempt to end Medicare (which is exactly what the Democrats will try to say, repeatedly), but what probably attracted Romney to Ryan is Ryan’s willingness to lead on controversial issues, something that is sorely missing in Washington today. The GOP can easily spin his budget into a positive if they frame it correctly.
6. He’s Young: At 42-years-old, Paul Ryan is a political baby. But his youth brings a different dynamic to the Romney ticket that could add a little more excitement.
7. Darling of the Conservative Right: Romney has always had trouble wooing the right-wing of the GOP, but this pick could help him score points with the Tea-Party crowd --voters he will need if he wants to win in November.
8. Congressional Experience: Despite his youth, Paul Ryan has a fairly long congressional career. He knows the House of Representatives very well and, as the chairman of the House Budget committee, will bring an insider’s insight to Romney who has a severe lack thereof.
9. Irish Catholic: Romney is going to need to rack up a sizeable majority of white Catholic voters in order to win. He can use Ryan’s religious background to attack Obama’s HHS mandate and use that as a discussion on religious liberty in the U.S. Evangelicals would probably have been happier with one of their own (Tim Pawlenty) but I think they will be ok with Ryan taking up the banner of a proud Christian Conservative.
10. Great Debater: As a former House page, I had the honor of seeing Ryan’s oratory skills up close. He is a passionate yet controlled debater. He is willing to talk about difficult issues without coming across as a complete political hack. The upcoming Biden/Ryan debate will not be something the GOP has to dread like they did four years ago with the other VP debate.
At the end of the day, I believe this is a pretty good pick for Romney. But, as history has shown, Paul Ryan won’t be the reason Mitt Romney wins or loses – that has more to do with Romney himself and events beyond anyone’s control. I guess the only question I have is who will play Paul Ryan on Saturday Night Live?