The Paul Ryan pick: Four pros and five cons

Running mate. (mittromney.com)
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Blake Zeff

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Pros

1. Ryan will undoubtedly help increase Romney's recent fund-raising advantage over Obama. While merely having any running mate would enable the ticket to double its presence at fund-raising events, the enthusiasm for Ryan among Republican elites and donors could lift the campaign into a new echelon.

2. In stark contrast to what happened to John McCain after the 2008 selection of Sarah Palin, the Romney team will not be caught off-guard by the main line of attack against Ryan. Knowing that the Ryan budget and its effect on programs like Medicare will be the target of Democrats, Romney’s team will presumably be better prepared than they have been for the attacks on his business record. The campaign seems to have assumed that record would be a big positive.

3. Democrats have been able to toggle between an attack on Romney for being too conservative and an attack on him for being an uncommitted flip-flopper. The selection of Ryan will reinforce the former, but it may at least cause the latter to recede.

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4. In choosing a candidate known chiefly for his substantive beliefs, and by emphasizing Ryan's supposed cheerfulness and collegiality, Romney can attempt to recast his campaign as more focused on positivity and problem-solving as the Obama campaign hammers away with attack ads. (It does not mean Romney wants a campaign on the "issues"; Obama's campaign will be like be a lot more interested in discussing Ryan's controversial policy proposals than Romney's will.)

Cons

1. Mitt Romney made a running mate choice that cancels out one of the key arguments for his candidacy. As with John McCain, who argued in 2008 that experience was critical and then went on to name a first-term governor as his running mate, the selection of Ryan, a 42-year-old congressman who has been in government for the his entirety of his (brief) career, will undermine Romney's contention that Obama is in over his head because he never had a job in the "real economy."

2. It's only going to be seen as a “bold” choice to the extent that people don't understand it as a concession by Romney to the loudest voices among his party's base and conservative editorial pages.

3. The Obama campaign has succeeded in making Romney look foolish and out-of-touch, but they haven't been able to make him unacceptably frightening. Democrats now have a specific budget plan and menu of cuts to programs that allow them to use the word "dangerous."

4. Romney’s choice will help him with his base, but will also help Obama with his. Some Democrats are disillusioned with the president’s perceived weakness in pushing liberal priorities. Having Romney-Ryan as the alternative will remind them what's at stake.

5. The idea that Elizabeth Warren is an extreme choice to speak at the Democratic convention no longer passes the laugh test.