Months of speculation and waiting came to a close this morning in Norfolk, Va., when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney introduced Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
Ryan had been suggested as a running mate for some time, but it wasn’t until recently that the talk grew serious. Many felt candidates like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had a better shot at getting nominated. However, many conservative leaders had advocated on behalf of Ryan in recent weeks, and the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial on Thursday suggesting he was the best choice.
The Romney campaign indicated, however, that Ryan was offered the vice president nod on August 1, well before conservative outcry for his nomination came out. Ryan’s selection capped off a four-month vetting process by the Romney campaign.
Ryan is seen as a bold choice by many pundits, in large part because of his budget plan, which called for dramatic changes in the way Medicare operates, consolidation of tax brackets, and a repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care plan. In selecting Ryan, Romney appears to be doubling down on his endorsement of the Ryan budget. It also appears to be an attempt to frame the fall election around larger issues than the economic growth and jobs creation debate that has marked the campaign so far.
Republicans hope Ryan will provide their campaign with a so-called “reset button”, making the campaign look bigger, bolder, and full of ideas. Democrats are already seizing upon the Ryan budget as a way to attack the Romney campaign. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Ryan would “gut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it.”
Whether or not the decision helps or hurts Romney’s campaign, it does appear that we will get more substantial policy discussion over the next three months than we might have with any other candidate. For an election that has so far been full of sniping and empty of much substance, that’s a good thing.
– Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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