Some Republicans have spent the last week wringing their hands over the new budget proposal from House Budget chair Paul Ryan. Others have suggested that Ryan’s solid credentials and straightforward manner on spending make him an obvious choice as running mate for the eventual Republican presidential nominee. Fox’s Chris Wallace asked Ryan the question on yesterday’s Fox News Sunday, and Ryan didn’t exactly rule out the idea:
“Well, I’m already the point guy for doing it in the House,” Ryan said. “I just don’t know the answer to your question, Chris. It is not a bridge I have even come close to crossing. It is a decision that somebody else makes a long time from now. And, quite honestly, I am focused on doing my job in Congress, which I think is important, which is to give the country and alternative choice of two futures on how we save and strengthen America, how we save the American dream from what I think is this path the president has put us on to debt and decline. So, I can’t answer that question. I haven’t given enough thought to that.”
But Ryan didn’t close the door completely to the possibility, saying he would “consider” it.
“I would have to consider it, but it’s not something I am even thinking about right now because I think our job in Congress is pretty important,” Ryan said. “And what we believe we owe the country is if we don’t like the direction the president is taking us, which we don’t — we owe them a specific sharp contrast and a different path they can select in November and doing this in Congress is really important. That’s why I think I have a real good job right now.”
Ryan doesn’t count himself out of the Veepstakes with this answer, of course, and he shouldn’t be out of the running. (Marco Rubio was more categorical in his demurrals.) Ryan has considerably more experience in Congress than Rubio, having served since 1999, although he has only been chair of the Budget Committee for fourteen months. Both have considerable political skills, and few in the GOP can match Ryan’s level of seriousness on budget issues as well as his skill in explaining them. Ryan’s patient, non-combative style would mesh well with a presidential nominee without running the risk of overshadowing him.
However, Ryan lacks executive experience, and as a member of the House has a smaller constituency than a Senator or a Governor. Ryan might or might not carry Wisconsin for a national ticket, and it’s unlikely that his influence would go much farther than his House district. For a clean-up-Washington ticket and a clear contrast between the two former Senators on the opposing ticket, the eventual Republican nominee will probably want a governor — and considering the two at the front of the GOP race at the moment, it’s more likely they’ll need a Southern governor at that.
Besides, Ryan does have an important job in this session, and taking the Budget chair out of the House in August just as the budget votes start getting scheduled in Congress will mean sidelining our best talent for that effort.