Everybody seems happy with
Ryan is no bland, play-it-safe choice of the kind many expected from Romney -- a
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.
Nonpartisan analysts have concluded that Ryan's grand design to reduce the size of government, rein in the deficit and slash taxes and spending does not really add up. It would reward rich people with a tax cut, poke big holes in the social safety net and fundamentally change Medicare, but not produce a balanced budget until 2050.
Nevertheless, congressional Republicans have proudly adopted the Ryan plan. Until Romney offers something more concrete, which he is not likely to do, his running mate’s proposal will be at the center of the ideological debate between the Republican team and
Amid the whoops of joy from both parties, there is one person who might be less than thrilled by the Ryan pick –
However, all Santorum's efforts to position himself as the favorite of fervent conservatives could be for naught if Ryan acquits himself well in the fall campaign. Should Ryan become vice president, he would be the natural successor to President Romney. If Obama prevails in November, Ryan will hold the inside track in the wide-open race for president in 2016.
In endorsing the Romey-Ryan ticket on Saturday, Santorum described Ryan as "a full spectrum conservative" who shares not only Santorum's fiscal ideas but his "solidly pro-life, pro-family" philosophy, as well. What happens if voters convincingly reject Ryan's hard-line conservatism? That is the one thing that could kill his chances to become the Republican heir apparent. But if such a rejection is bad for Ryan, it would be bad for Santorum too, along with any other "full spectrum conservative."