The media is reporting that Mitt Romney will be announcing his vice presidential pick at 9:00 on Saturday morning and that the choice will likely be Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan.
If Ryan is the pick, he will excite the Republican base which sees him as a true conservative.
Ryan is intelligent, experienced, and an acknowledged expert on fiscal matters. He served on the Simpson-Bowles budget commission, ultimately dissenting from his recommendations. (That hardly will make him a pariah, though, since the Simpson-Bowles report is one of the most lauded orphans in Washington political history.) After casting his no vote at the commission, Ryan offered up his own plan for getting the federal government’s fiscal house in order, a plan widely approved by the Republican base.
If Ryan does prove to be his choice, it will demonstrate that, in order to gain the approval of the base, Romney’s primary rule in the selection process has been, “First, do no harm.” Ryan is not likely to hurt Romney’s cause by being less than ready for “prime time.” (Ryan would likely more than hold his own in a debate with Vice President Biden.)
Beyond assuring the GOP base though, it’s hard for me to see how Ryan helps Romney become president. This election is likely to be decided in places like Ohio, Virginia, and Florida, swing states where the battle is for independent-minded, non-ideological voters. Unless I miss my guess, these voters are not likely to be as excited to see Paul Ryan on the ticket as conservatives are apt to be.
The bottom line is this: Conservative Republicans were going to gulp and pull the lever for any Republican ticket in November anyway. Mitt Romney needs someone who’s going to help him in one or more of those swing states. I don’t think that Paul Ryan can do that. As always, it’s as likely that I’m wrong as that I’m right. But that’s my two-cents’ worth.