The Paul Ryan vice presidential buzz has reached a deafening amplitude this week with the Romney campaign telling numerous reporters that the Wisconsin congressman is at the top of the shortlist. But while a Romney-Ryan ticket has its advantages, it also opens up Romney to relentless attacks over Medicare, a program Ryan makes no bones about wanting to scale back. It would also remove a powerful powerbroker from Congress, as The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza made clear in his profile last week. So where does Romney need Ryan most? Here's what the political pros think:
Romney Needs Ryan... in Wisconsin An increasingly cited benefit of having Ryan as his running mate is the Wisconsin native's potential of fulfilling a longstanding dream of GOP operatives: Turning the Badger State red. "Wisconsin may be our best opportunity to pluck a blue state and bring it over if he’s on the ticket,’ Rep. Tom Cole, a former political operative, told Politico's Jonathan Martin, Jake Sherman and Maggie Haberman. As the reporting team explains: "The state is no sure thing for Obama. While the president easily carried Wisconsin in 2008, George W. Bush lost the state by less than 1 percent in both 2000 and 2004. The best proof of how competitive Ryan’s district and the state may be is this: a Romney-Ryan ticket makes his district a pickup opportunity for Democrats.”
Romney Needs Ryan... in Congress One of the more surprising voices to discourage a Ryan VP selection is anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, who told The National Review's Robert Costa that Romney will need Ryan most in Congress. “If I had my druthers, I would hope Romney would pick one of the other options,” the president of Americans for Tax Reform told Costa. “The most important thing in the first year of a Romney administration would be a U-turn on the road to serfdom, and the way to do that is by passing the Ryan budget, which requires a major mover not just at the White House, but in Congress. It’d be easier to do that with Ryan in the House, since he has walked through it already with every Republican.” That's a view that may come as surprise to Ryan supporters, who've watched the tax master champion Ryan's policies more vocally than almost anyone else.
At the same time, there's another reason Romney may prefer Ryan in Congress—it keeps his ticket as far away as possible from the widely-despised governing body. As GOP insiders told Politico, picking Ryan lets Democrats "carve in the challenger a scarlet 'C' for the unpopular Congress." A GOP senator adds, “To win this race, we’re going to have to show independents we can govern and our congressional approval rating is pretty bad.”
Romney Needs Ryan... Fundraising at Banquets Another cited plus for his VP nomination is as a fundraiser for the Romney campaign. Not that he hasn't helped out already, but Ryan is hugely popular with deep-pocketed GOP donors and his nomination would ensure his attendance at fundraising events across the country. As Politico's Robin Bravender noted last month, he's been an absolute juggernaut at raising cash. "The House budget chairman raised $1 million between April and June, marking his campaign’s best fundraising quarter in the 2012 campaign. His leadership PAC also raised $522,000 in June — the most it’s raised in any month this year, according to the latest campaign-finance reports."
Romney Needs Ryan... Totally Out of the Picture Of course, another camp of political experts say the best thing Ryan can do for Romney is stay as far away from the national spotlight as possible. "Ryan would be a disaster," writes The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky. "Why would Romney intentionally tie himself to the man who wants to destroy Medicare? It's bad enough for him that he's endorsed Ryan's budget. We're not hearing much about this yet, but everyone in politics expects that this will be a big Obama attack line in October." Some GOP members agree. “He’s a smart guy who will excite the base but I think the Democrats would seize on this very quickly and make the election about Medicare,” a prominent GOP senator told Politico.