Everybody seems happy with Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin congressman Paul D. Ryan as his running mate.Republicans are joyful because it is a bold move that will electrify the tea party troops of the party’s base. Democrats are gleeful because they think they can scare older voters with Ryan’s proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
Ryan is no bland, play-it-safe choice of the kind many expected from Romney — a Tim Pawlenty, for instance, who has all the charisma of an Arby’s franchise manager. Neither is he a wacky wild-card choice like the comically unprepared Sarah Palin in 2008. Ryan has 13 years of experience in the House of Representatives and a boldly controversial spending plan he crafted as chairman of the House Budget Committee that everyone agrees could transform the federal government.
It is Ryan’s transformative plan that now will become the center of contention in the campaign. Up to this point, Romney has been infuriatingly vague about his approach to governing and suspiciously elastic about his core beliefs. Now, joined at the hip with a man who has a specific proposal, Romney’s candidacy may rise or fall on how voters respond to the scheme put forward by the No. 2 guy on the ticket.