The problem with Ryan is that he represents a virtual one-trick pony for Romney. Ryan’s siren song about the national debt is something we’ve heard before, but rolling back entitlements will not be easy or pretty — and probably not successful. The other problem with reforming Medicare and Social Security is that the debate Ryan and others are promoting assumes that personal income growth will not pick up the slack after decades of lag, which has severely hamstrung the sustainability of the programs.
In reality, Romney may eventually regret he didn’t choose candidates who probably could have done more damage to the Obama-Biden ticket.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was a natural choice and was mentioned more than any hopeful. He’s a first-term senator and would have given the GOP some hope of capturing Hispanic votes in two states the party really needs — Florida and Texas. Romney is so far down in the polls when it comes to Hispanic voters, he might have realized more benefit from energizing the traditional Republican base of white males. Obama has had a wide lead among women voters, Hispanic voters and African-American voters since the start of the campaign.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio also was a natural choice. Both parties covet Ohio almost more than any other state because it’s usually in play and it has a significant Electoral College total. Portman’s experience in Washington might have been helpful, but he wasn’t a particularly well-known political name, and that could have been an asset for Romney.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped out early in the GOP primary process, and that signaled the possibility that Romney would tab him as a running mate. But Pawlenty polled so surprisingly weakly during the primary season that his stock probably fell before Romney even won the necessary states to assure his nomination.