James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Why Paul Ryan could enter the 2012 presidential race

April 26, 2011

It’s not just Bill Kristol, gang. There’s desire at the highest ranks of the Republican Party, according to my reporting and sources, to see House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan seek the 2012 presidential nomination. Here’s why:

1) Since Democrats are determined to hang Ryan’s bold “Path to Prosperity” budget plan around the neck of every Republican running for office in 2012,  why not have its author and best salesman advocate for it directly vs. President Obama?

2) Ryan — to borrow a favorite Simon Cowell phrase — is “current.” He’s smack in the middle of budgetary and ideological clash between Democrats and Republicans and would immediately energize conservative and Tea Party activists.

3) Ryan is a strong national defense conservative, as well as pro-life.

4) Ryan is from a battleground state, Wisconsin, and a battleground region, the upper Great Lakes.

5) Ryan’s youth, vigor, likability and Jimmy Stewart persona — well, a wonky version of George Bailey — would be an immediate shorthand signal to voters that he’s a different kind of Republican. He also has a compelling life story to tell.

6) Obama suddenly and unexpectedly to Washington insiders looks beatable — by the right candidate.

The counter-argument here, of course, is that Ryan a) has repeatedly ruled out a 2012 run for family reasons (small kids) and b) may instead run for U.S. Senate in 2012. He also just turned 41 and may not want to go all in so quickly, especially against an incumbent president expected to try and raise $1 billion for re-election. But if Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich — maybe Mitch Daniels, too — fail to catch fire, expect the pressure on Ryan to run to rise.

Comments

I like Rep Ryan for VP, a lot.

@DanFarfan

Posted by DanFarfan | Report as abusive
 

I would vote for him on any ticket spot. The VP choice if Paul got the nod, could be someone with some ‘gravitas’ ha, that would unite the team. Newt, Paws, another Gov. Daniels. It would be a team which would show serious respect for American economic solutions and some pro-foreign policy ideas. Or even a Senator like Santorum or Sessions of Ala. We need bold differences.

Posted by phillyfanatic | Report as abusive
 

Ryan can defend his plan as the VP candidate. I’m confident Biden won’t be Obama’s VP choice the second time around. So Ryan can make the VP debate solely about budget issues, and the GOP can win with that strategy.

Posted by bjjfiter | Report as abusive
 

If what’s going on in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio are any indication, Republicans are going to be wiped off the map in November 2012.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive
 

Well, if the economy continues to tank, the GOP could put up a farmyard animal and still win. But assuming it’s competitive, Paul Ryan would be a really bad candidate. I happen to agree with him on most things, and I think he knows lots of good stuff about how to cut the budget. But having seen him on TV a few times, he needs at least five years and a lot of media training to be ready for prime time. Among his most obvious faults are – he talks too fast, he explains complicated issues in long complicated sentences – ie he doesn’t have the gift of explaining complicated things in a simple way, he tries to answer the question rather than get his own talking points across making him a gift for a hostile interviewer (which will be about 98% of them), he gets distracted onto side issues, he distracts himself with subclauses. His manner is eager and puppyish and he totally lacks gravitas. Obama is in reality an empty suit, but he can play a man with gravitas quite well (though the act is beginning to grate pretty badly.) In short, Ryan would look like a clever eager likeable kid against Obama and would be eaten for breakfast. He should stay where he is, sort out the budget process, which certainly requires his cleverness and wonkishness, and come back and stand for President in his fifties when he’s acquired some gravitas. In the meantime, I suggest that the GOP doesn’t put up a farmyard animal just in case it is competitive. I don’t agree with Romney as much as I agree with Ryan (or Perry) but with a GOP Senate and House (which is what there will be if there’s a GOP President) Romney will do just fine. He’ll blow with the wind, and the wind will be coming from Ryan’s direction.

Posted by LeeMoore | Report as abusive
 

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