Today’s news that Congressman Paul Ryan is seriously considering jumping into the Republican nomination race for President has to be stunning for anyone following Ryan for the past year.
Ryan’s focus as been so centered on the budget, debt ceiling, and entitlement reform, one has to wonder if he ever took his nose out of a CBO report.
Paul Ryan’s positives are clear: he was the leading voice for budgetary restraint long before the Tea Party existed. He was the only politician to put out a comprehensive package to reform entitlements, most specifically Medicare. No one else has come close.
But in these points lies a black cloud…which is that Ryan’s honesty about entitlements is his Achilles’ heel. The public is still not honestly discussing the reality that entitlements need to be cut. And so the Democrats have successfully demagogued Ryan over the past few months. Yes, the attacks have been false and laden with lies, but it has still hurt his standing with the general public, who often don’t look very deep into the political discourse of the day.
The other question is, what is Ryan’s viable path to the nomination? Bachmann and Perry seem to have the social conservative locked up, making Iowa a tough sell for Ryan. Romney has an edge in New Hampshire, though you could argue Ryan’s calm demeanor and fact based rhetoric could play there. But there is no clear way for Ryan. He will have to hang on, and hope that he catches on for Super Tuesday. That is a tough road to climb, especially when he would likely be outspent by Romney, Bachmann, and Perry.
I still will be slightly shocked if Ryan jumps in. He is young, and has plenty more chances at a Presidential run if he wishes. A little executive experience wouldn’t hurt either. But at the same time, Ryan is by far the most eloquent voice Republicans have on entitlement reform, and I would hope his voice would stay in Congress, where it could probably have the largest effect.
Ryan is one of my personal political heroes. At 41, he has many years ahead of him to make a profound impact on this country. I just don’t know if running for President is the right choice at this time.