Is Paul Ryan the Right Choice for Mitt Romney’s VP?

Both Republicans and Democrats are celebrating the selection of Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

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After months of speculation, Mitt Romney formally announced Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee Saturday chose the Wisconsin congressman as his running mate.

Ryan is a bold choice for Romney, who passed up more conventional choices like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. Ryan, the chair of the House Budget Committee, has caused controversy with his budget proposals that many say gut social welfare programs. He is vocal about reducing government spending and the federal deficit, and favors a more limited government.

In U.S. News's Debate Club, Ford O'Connell said the Ryan pick will center the campaign on individual liberty versus a powerful government, and will also inject needed energy into the race:

Ryan also brings a fresh face and a fresh approach to presidential electoral politics. His name ID sits only in the mid-50s, so he will have the opportunity to define himself—and the Democrats the opportunity to define him as they will—to more than half the country in coming weeks. And what will those unfamiliar with Ryan see? A fit, friendly, and eloquent young man with an attractive family whose knowledge of policy and ability to articulate solutions is second to none. A man who has thought about the defining issue of his day—fiscal overreach—and developed solutions that have drawn bipartisan support. A tireless campaigner with a squeaky-clean image and the support of virtually his entire party.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Ryan is also considered to be a very eloquent speaker and debater, and is expected to give Vice President Joe Biden a run for his money in their debate this fall.

Democrats see the Ryan pick as a "Hail Mary" move for Romney, who has recently fallen further behind President Barack Obama in some polls. Romney has failed to draw widespread enthusiasm from Republicans, and Democrats see Ryan as a desperate move to energize the party base. Debate Club's Jamie Chandler says Ryan could improve Romney's chances with rural voters, but may alienate undecideds and independents:

Romney won't see the same affection from undecided voters. They typically follow politics only during presidential elections. Most don't recognize Ryan. They're going to be vulnerable to the president's message that Ryan is an extreme Republican who doesn't understand them. Ryan's stance on Medicare reform is particularly problematic and is now Mitt Romney's biggest liability.

Ryan will also fail to turn out other key constituencies for Romney because of his views on immigration and abortion, according to Debate Club's Jamal Simmons:

Choosing Paul Ryan will do very little to help Mitt Romney in these key voting blocs where Romney is struggling. Women and Latinos care about the economy and jobs when they go to vote just like everyone else, but abortion and immigration reform are threshold trust questions for many of these voters, much the way support for gun rights are for many rural voters. If a politician fails to pass muster on these issues, many people won't hear anything else he or she has to say.

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