Paul Ryan: Mitt Romney’s Best (And Worst) VP Option [Op-Ed]

COMMENTARY | More and more as the 2012 election moves along, Paul Ryan seems to be the obvious pick as running mate for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. We aim to explain how Ryan’s selection would be simultaneously the best – and worst – decision Romney can make in his campaign.

Mitt Romney hasn’t had a lot of luck over the past several weeks. The tax return debacle, the Bain capital controversy, and the Obama campaign’s attacks on the GOP hopeful have rocked the polls into President Obama’s favor. The pressure on Mitt Romney to announce his running mate is as high as it has ever been, as he reaches for something – anything – to re-energize his lagging campaign. Enter Paul Ryan.

For starters, the odds are in his favor. The probability of Ryan’s selection has risen dramatically over the past several days among political betting market outlets including ABC’s own Political Stock Market. Secondly, Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate would put swing-state Wisconsin up for grabs, according to PolicyMic. As a “hands-on” public figure, Ryan would be poised to influence the office of VP like no one before him. USNews dedicated an entire column to the benefits of naming Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate – among them, the belief that Ryan would energize the Republican base, his status as a reformer, and the notion that he’d make short work of Joe Biden in the debates.

But the brighter the picture, the darker the negative.

First of all, the VP pick is a last-minute measure to energize the election, and historically, it doesn’t count for much. Say what you will about Sarah Palin, McCain announcing her as his running mate in 2008 ticked his numbers up… for a minute. Also, though Ryan would undoubtedly energize the Republican base, his selection would be tantamount to “putting a giant target on the Romney campaign,” in the eyes of Independents, Democrats, and the Obama campaign, notes NY Daily.

Don’t forget, it’s not about who is right, who is an innovator, or even who has the best soundbytes – at the end of the day, it’s about public perception. It’s also about record, what the public remembers about record, and what the Obama campaign can remind them of. Namely, the incredibly unpopular House budget passed by Republicans – authored by none other than Paul Ryan. A budget which, whether you approve of it or not, will be brought up countless times by Obama and his team, in and out of context, to smear the GOP contenders.

After Romney’s VP announcement, there are still the debates to look forward to. There exists a notion that Mitt Romney has been hiding all of his tricks up his sleeve until the real conversation begins in the fall. But with each day passing, political observers continue to wonder when he’s finally going to start playing.

On a related note, some of us around the IQ water cooler still think that Condi Rice would be Mitt’s best VP choice, if for no other reason than to see Saturday Night Live‘s version of the debates between Rice and incumbent VP Joe Biden.

Is Paul Ryan Mitt Romney’s best choice for VP? Why or why not? Sound off!

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