“He has all the baggage of the House,” said the senator. “To win this race, we’re going to have to show independents we can govern and our congressional approval rating is pretty bad.”

Tony Fabrizio, a GOP pollster, said a gamble on Ryan would be out of character for Romney.

“I’m not convinced of what he net delivers for Romney — I think there’s good points about Ryan but I think there’s bad points about Ryan,” Fabrizio said. “Romney has been very careful not to embrace the Medicare cuts in the Ryan budget. If he puts him on the ticket, what does he do? There’s no question he’s a star and he’s probably got a very bright future, but for a guy who has played it remarkably safe, to take on [Ryan] is just probably not where he’s going to be.”

To other veteran Republicans, selecting Ryan would mark a fundamental misread of a process that typically gets more attention from the media than from voters.

“You’re looking for a supportive mini-me rather than a co-star,” said GOP strategist Mike Murphy. “And my view is that the bold pick is historically overrated. Saying that this election is different because it’s bigger is a cliché. When have we ever heard somebody say this year is a totally unimportant election?”