Ezra Klein has presented an interesting argument for why Mitt Romney should pick Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate: Blame avoidance.
As he writes,
If Romney chooses the proverbial “incredibly boring white guy” and then goes down in November, conservatives will place the blame squarely on Romney’s shoulders: He was a flip-flopping, Massachusetts Moderate with a cautious campaign and a car garage. The narrative, in fact, is already set. In July, the Wall Street Journal editorial page accused Romney of “slowly squandering an historic opportunity.” They would simply have to change “squandering” to “squandered.” And Romney knows it.
But if Romney chooses Ryan — if he makes this the “big election over big issues” that the Wall Street Journal editorial page wants — then his loss will be their loss as well…
I’m not sure that would work. Bob Dole famously gave conservatives his old nemesis (and Ryan’s old boss) Rep. Jack Kemp in 1996. That didn’t stop everyone from blaming Dole for the defeat.
Still, I do suspect a lot of liberals are looking for ways to avoid an outcome that reinforces the notion that Republicans win only by nominating strong conservatives (a point which, looking at Bob Dole and John McCain, would seem to make sense.)
As David Frum warned last October:
If candidate Romney loses, tea party Republicans will claim that the GOP lost because it failed to nominate a ‘true conservative.”
… Back-to-back losses under John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 will open the way to an ultra-conservative nominee in 2016 — and a true party debacle.”