10 Reasons Paul Ryan Should Be Mitt Romney's VP Pick

Mitt Romney should pick Paul Ryan to be his vice president.

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House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan introduces Mitt Romney before Romney spoke in Milwaukee in April.

Some say a Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket would bring about an electoral disaster for Republicans—guaranteeing a return of the "throwing Grandma off a cliff" type of attacks we've seen from the left on Medicare reform—I've got my fingers crossed for Romney to go with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate. Here's why:

  1.  Naming Ryan to the ticket energizes the base. This week both The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal endorsed Ryan for vice president, on the argument that serious times demand serious candidates. Romney could use a little street cred with fiscal conservatives, and no one brings more of that than Paul Ryan. Putting him on the ticket says to the right that Romney is "one of us" after all. One problem: As the pro-Ryan pressure builds up on the blogosphere and weekend talk shows, there could be a big let-down on the right if Romney doesn't name him. That could make things very difficult for Romney—because not naming Ryan says almost as much as naming him does. Big problem.
  2. This is an election about "big ideas," and the longer it stays on small issues like Bain Capital and Romney's tax returns, the worse Romney will do. Ryan is the intellectual leader of the party—who better to take the Republican case to voters in common sense language about how high the stakes are? Time to move from defense to offense.
  3. Paul Ryan has already survived attacks from the left and lived to tell the tale. A few months ago, I got to watch Paul Ryan debate entitlement reform with Rep. Barney Frank, who was rude and ill-informed. Ryan not only handled Frank gracefully, he won the argument. When everyone else's hair is on fire, Ryan keeps his cool. He's a happy warrior, reasonable and nonthreatening. People like that. Democrats are already attacking the "Romney-Ryan" budget, so let's put the guy who can best defend it out front.
  4. Selecting Ryan puts entitlement reform front and center, before it's too late. Current retirees have paid more in Social Security taxes than they will collect in benefits, for the first time ever. We can all see the crisis looming, and whether you agree with it or not, Ryan's the only one with a credible plan on the table for avoiding disaster. I believe most families are ready for a solution to the problem, not more stalling. More than any other name on the short list, Ryan guarantees that the election will become a mandate on enacting reasonable entitlement reform, simplifying the tax code, and reining in spending.
  5. Putting Ryan on the ticket may help the GOP win Wisconsin. From the Christian Science Monitor: "Representative Ryan hails from a battleground district in Wisconsin and yet has crushed every opponent he has run against, starting with his first race in 1998. With Romney trailing in Wisconsin by only six percentage points (margin of error of plus or minus three), that puts the state near toss-up territory." The Monitor also quotes a Public Policy Polling study of Wisconsin voters done in early June which showed Obama beating Romney 50 percent to 44 percent. When Ryan was on the ticket, Obama's lead disappeared, to just 1 percentage point. 
  6. Ryan helps define Romney as a forward-looking reformer and gives him an opportunity to convince skeptics who aren't sure what they're getting with Romney. Most voters have made up their minds about Obama and don't like him; the jury's still out on Romney. Other short-listers like former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Gov. Bob McDonnell, and Sen. Rob Portman, as good as they are, don't fill in the blank as much as Ryan does. 
  7. Ryan is popular with Republicans. In a recent USA Today poll, the Wisconsin congressman was tied for second place with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (first place went to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio). Ryan's favorability rating was high, 46 percent, among Republicans. This despite the fact that he's from the highly unpopular Congress.
  8. Ryan would run circles around Vice President Joe Biden in a debate. He's a great speaker—remember Ryan's State of the Union response a year ago? Even though he's young-looking, he came across as presidential, which isn't always the case with those events (remember Bobby Jindal's response?) There's a Midwestern charm to him. Serious, self-deprecating, and let's not forget those blue eyes!
  9. Paul Ryan embodies the new face of the GOP—not the establishment. While some on the right feel that Ryan is a "creature of Washington" because he's served in Congress longer than some of the newcomers, he's the kind of reformer who appeals to voters who threw the bums out in 2010. While he's not a Tea Partyer himself, he has some crossover appeal because he's just as willing to talk about the spending mistakes of the Bush era as the failed policies of the Obama administration. He's not your father's Republican Party.
  10. Nothing says "Go bold" like putting Paul Ryan on the ticket. It lays down the gauntlet on many levels, not least of which is the way the president's far-left ideology has prevented the economy from recovering. When I was a staffer on the 1988 Bush campaign, Michael Dukakis said, "This election is not about ideology. It's about competence." This election is about both ideology and competence, and Paul Ryan's got both. Not everybody on the short list does. Mitt Romney does, and here's his opportunity to show the world.
    • Read Robert Schlesinger: July Takes Its Toll on Romney
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