I’m going to guess no, but this is too juicy a scooplet from Ace to let pass unnoticed.
Obama’s going to be running against Paul Ryan anyway, so why not make it official?
I asked another journalist type (I won’t say who since I didn’t tell him I’d be quoting, it was a personal type question) and he said, “Well, he rules it out in his public statements but in his private statements…?” Not so much.
I asked, to be sure, if he was saying “Who knows what he says in private?” or if he was saying “I’ve heard what he says in private, and he’s not as firm on it as he is in public declarations.” He confirmed it was the latter.
I think the situation he’d be willing to consider it is if there’s no unifying, consensus figure in the primaries.
Would he be a unifying, consensus figure? He voted for TARP, the tax on AIG bonuses, and the auto bailout. Some would forgive him for that given his leadership on the 2012 budget, but some — like the libertarian wing — wouldn’t. Meanwhile, Democrats are planning to use his budget proposal to drive a wedge within the party by forcing a vote in the Senate and making centrist Republicans choke on the Medicare and tax provisions. Collins has already said she opposes his program; doubtless there are others. Imagine a presidential campaign where the candidate’s signature piece of legislation is hit with attack ads showcasing opposition from the moderates in his own party.
Like it or not, he’d be a huge risk with seniors given the left’s nascent “Mediscare” campaign against him. In 18 months, for many low-information voters, he’ll be the grinch who wants to take away grandma’s heart medicine to save a few pennies. In fact, Democrats are so giddy about their demagogic opportunities that they think they might be able to target his House seat, never mind a presidential bid. Ryan could and would undo some of that damage on the stump simply through argumentation and personal charm, but he wouldn’t undo all of it. I think the appeal of him running lies mainly in the fact that, given how closely identified he is already with entitlement reform, if he were viable as a potential nominee then that would necessarily mean the public is open to serious action on deficit reduction — which is a glorious thought. Are they? Maybe a little, but how about after another year and a half of bareknuckle scare tactics?
As a gloss on this, read Robert Samuelson’s indictment of the “adult in the room” who somehow never manages to act in a remotely adult fashion when it comes to the country’s long-term fiscal challenges. That’s actually the best argument for a Ryan run — although he’d be a longshot to win, it’d give him six solid months in the general election to expose Obama as a fraud on deficit reduction and hopefully pressure him into ass-saving fiscal action.