It's All Politics
1:10 pm
Sat August 11, 2012

Pros And Cons: Ryan As Romney's VP

Originally published on Sat August 11, 2012 2:25 pm

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate seems to be uniting both Republicans and Democrats. The GOP is embracing the young, wonky addition to the ticket, while the left seems happy to be taking him on.

Here's a quick look at the pluses and minuses of the decision, from the point of view of the man at the top of the ticket.

PROS:

The Right Is Thrilled: Romney's decision follows open campaigning for Ryan from conservative institutions like The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.

The conservative National Review editors reacted Saturday: "Governor Romney has made an inspired choice. Paul Ryan will make an excellent running mate and, if elected, vice president."

Romney Gets A Chance To Rise Above Small-Ball: As The Wall Street Journal put it in its editorial: "Mr. Obama and the Democrats want to make this a small election over small things — Mitt's taxes, his wealth, Bain Capital. As the last two months have shown, Mr. Romney will lose that kind of election."

By picking Ryan, who is known for his fiscal conservatism and his commitment to overhauling big federal programs like Medicare and Social Security, "Romney will move more boldly than most observers expected to try to shift the debate off his personal financial past and on to America's economic future," writes James Rainey in the Los Angeles Times.

Romney May Score Points In Wisconsin: The swing state went solidly for President Obama four years ago and hasn't voted for a Republican presidential contender since the 1980s. But "Ryan's blue-collar Wisconsin background and personal popularity — he's won his last six races with no less than 63% of the vote — could give Romney a boost there," says USA Today's David Colton.

CONS:

It's Red Meat For Democrats: The left is going to sink its teeth into Ryan's budget plan and never let go. Obama and other Democrats have already been campaigning against it. In April, Obama said it was "so far to the right that it makes the Contract With America look like the New Deal."

"There was no one on Romney's short list of contenders [Democrats] wanted to run against more than the chairman of the House Budget Committee," Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post. "Romney has now assumed ownership of Ryan's budgetary plan and its provisions for reining in the cost of entitlement programs. Democrats will attack it and its author as vigorously as they have tried to savage Romney's business background and personal finances."

And the attacks on Ryan's plan — which, since it would eventually involve changes to Medicare, will be particularly targeted toward seniors — could breathe new life into Obama's campaign in the key swing state of Florida.

Experience Gap: Like Romney, Ryan lacks much foreign policy experience. And unlike Romney, he doesn't have a business or executive background.

"Besides summer jobs working at McDonald's or at his family's construction company, or waiting tables as a young Washington staffer, Ryan has none of the business-world experience Romney frequently touts as essential for governing," Ryan Lizza writes in The New Yorker.

PRO Or CON?

It Could Take The Focus Off President Obama's Record: In many quarters, Romney's bold pick is being viewed as an acknowledgement that trying to keep the campaign solely focused on President Obama's handling of the economy wasn't working out.

But, as John Harris and Mike Allen write in Politico, "It is hard to overstate the risks Romney is taking in making a choice that virtually guarantees a far-reaching debate about the broader role of government and the entitlement state. Simply put, it is a debate Republicans have almost never won when they've put it directly before voters in the past."

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