The wait is over – after months of suspense, Mitt Romney has announced that his running mate will be Paul Ryan, the representative from Wisconsin’s 1st district. Ryan currently serves as the chair of the House Budget Committee, and became a household name in 2011 budget proposal.
News of the nomination leaked in the last hours of Friday night, just before Romney made the announcement at the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA. With media outlets carefully observing the travel plans of the other frontrunners, it soon became clear that Ryan was Romney’s man.
Ryan is a staunch conservative, and a good choice to rally those in the conservative base. Ryan’s budget plan advocated for massive discretionary spending cuts to address the deficit. He believes government spending is the number one culprit of the economy’s woes, and may be enough of a conservative to sway the portions of the base that still have doubts about Romney’s commitment to conservatism. Even though he is a current member of an unpopular Congress and a “Washington insider”, he is regarded by conservatives as a straight-talker and is popular in his district. All of Ryan’s six bids for his Congressional seat have been successful, and by a wide margin.
Of course, Ryan’s popularity with the Tea Party and more conservative base isn’t a cure-all for all that ails the Romney campaign. His conservative leanings won’t necessarily be popular among more moderate swing state voters. Ryan’s budget plans also included serious cuts to Medicare and Social Security, a position that is unlikely to be popular with older voters in Florida. The Congressman is also rated at 0% by NARAL, which will do little to improve Romney’s image among women voters. President Obama already holds a significant lead over Romney with women voters – some polls estimate by as much as 24 points – and Ryan’s support for cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding certainly won’t help close the gap.
Romney’s nomination of Paul indicates that the campaign is still unsure about whether or not it can count on its base for support in the fall. This strategy may appeal to conservative voters, but is unlikely to widen Romney’s pool of supporters.