Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan will be debated for days. There is much to discuss, but here are a few things of note that immediately come to my mind.
1. Years ago, Hugh Hewitt wrote a book about Romney called “A Mormon in the White House.” Today’s title might be “A Mormon (and a Catholic!) in the White House.” Historically speaking, this is a big deal.
2. Ryan’s selection will please (appease?) conservatives. In fact, a few prominent conservative bloggers had launched a #giveusRyan Twitter hashtag. This will be a real opportunity for a serious debate about the budget, and — should Romney-Ryan win — they will have a mandate to actually tackle entitlement reform, etc. But, as I noted years ago, Ryan’s actual voting record isn’t exactly what you’d expect from the icon of fiscal conservatism.
3. Liberals will attempt to demonize Ryan and his budget. They will talk about his affinity for Ayn Rand (which I explained/debunked here.) And they will, of course, talk about his budget (ironically, back in January 2011, I mocked the notion that “anybody’s going to be thinking about a Congressman in Wisconsin” come November of 2012.) I was wrong.
4. For conservatives, there is also a potential downside — in that they now OWN the 2012 election. If Romney-Ryan ’12 loses, it will be harder for conservatives to blame Romney’s record as a moderate as the sole cause.
5. Jack Kemp has to be smiling today. (And by the way, the line about “right wing social engineering” likely came from the late Rep. Kemp.) Also worth noting is that Ryan’s other former mentor, former Rep. Mark Neumann (who previously occupied Ryan’s current House seat), will be on the ballot in Wisconsin this Tuesday. He’s running for U.S. senate in a hotly contested primary.