Who better understands the stakes of the vice presidential choice than Sen. John McCain, who still gets to see his own decision played out repeatedly on HBO? When asked on CBS about whether the GOP nominee should “go rogue” with the VP choice this year, McCain gave a wink to his own 2008 choice:
McCain then went on to name all the obvious picks: Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Mitch Daniels. All good choices, but with due respect to the argument that the dullest veep is the best veep, a Romney-Daniels ticket might be pushing it.
Rubio is obviously the odds-on-favorite. Then again, Christie’s visit to Israel yesterday – and meeting with Netanyahu – is fueling speculation that he’s trying to boost his foreign policy cred for some sort of high-profile national role.
Someone McCain left out who has been getting more VP buzz than usual today is Rep. Paul Ryan, who delivered a scathing speech blasting President Obama last night, after the president publicly criticized Ryan’s budget proposal.
Ryan challenged Obama for his “broken promises” reminding voters that he would try to divide Americans because he could not run on his record.
“I seem to remember him saying that he was going to be a uniter, not a divider,” Ryan said. “Frankly this is one and the worst of his broken promises. We do not need a campaigner-in-chief, we need a commander-in-chief, we need a leader that America deserves.”
“The presidency is bigger than this. He was supposed to be bigger than this.” Ryan continued, “We need solutions, not excuses. We need a president who takes the lead in not one that spreads the blame. We need someone who appeals to our dreams and aspirations, not to our fears and anxieties. We as Americans deserve to choose what kind of country we want and what kind of people we want to be.”
Obama’s direct attacks on Ryan this week have been fascinating. It’s not often the president of the United States gives speeches calling out the chairman of the House Budget Committee. But it’s a sign that Ryan’s desire to focus this election on the ideological differences between the parties on economic issues is working.
Choosing Ryan for VP could help cement that focus – but it would also carry risks. As a vice presidential candidate, Ryan would instantly become a more polarizing figure. His charisma and status as a conservative rising star could also end up overshadowing Romney in some ways. Ryan may actually be able to play a more supportive role for Romney outside of the campaign than in it.