Paul Ryan Is High-Risk, High-Reward for Mitt Romney

Paul Ryan has become a frontrunner for the GOP VP nomination.

ByABC News
August 10, 2012, 3:37 PM

Aug. 11, 2012 -- Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan -- who Republican sources now tell ABC News has been selected as Mitt Romney's running mate -- is a young, politically tested, but controversial figure on Capitol Hill.

Just 42 years old, he's already been elected to represent Wisconsin's 1st District seven times. Within the Republican Party, he's regarded as a rising star, and conservatives would be delighted to see him added to the ticket. It's no secret that some of the more hardcore factions inside the GOP have their doubts about Romney (see: Rick Santorum's longevity in the primaries). Having Ryan riding shotgun with the candidate would ease the bulk of their concerns.

On the flip side, Paul Ryan is popular -- arguably more popular with Republicans than Romney himself. Here's a challenge: Name another vice presidential nominee with similar credentials whose ticket won the general election? Exactly.

The last two presidents picked older running mates, neither of whom threatened to gin up more popular interest than the candidate himself. Choosing Ryan would be an unusually bold move by Romney's mostly cautious campaign, the kind of decision some party insiders say will be required to defeat President Obama in November. But it also sets up more than a few potential tripwires. Here are some of the strongest arguments for, and against, sticking Ryan on the ticket.

Paul Ryan's "Roadmap" to Deficit Reduction

For – No one will ever accuse Ryan of being an obstructionist or lacking in ideas. The New Yorker called the House Budget Committee chairman the leader of his party's "attack-and-propose faction." Rather than simply work to tie up Obama-backed legislation in Congress, he's put forth two alternative budgets, in 2009 and 2010. In those, as with his "Roadmap for America's Future" acts (one in 2008 and an updated version for 2010), Ryan advocates strongly for deficit reduction.

And he's specific about how he would do it.

Against – He's specific about how he would do it. However one feels about the "Roadmap" proposal, and people tend to feel rather strongly, there's no doubt about what it would entail. The top tax rates would be cut to 25 percent from 35 percent; all taxes on capital gains, interest, and stock dividends would be eliminated; and, most controversially, the Ryan plan would privatize Social Security and Medicare.

Social Security and Medicare are politically dangerous and having Ryan as his running mate would force Romney to constantly defend Ryan's proposals or explain his differences with those unpopular proposals.

Odds of Romney Picking Paul Ryan as VP Double in Political Betting Market

Paul Ryan, Master Politician

For – Ryan is a winner. He has never lost an election.

Against – His record in the private sector is thin, having entered Congress at age 28. Before winning office, Ryan worked during college as an Oscar Mayer salesman – yes, he drove the Weinermobile – and then mostly on Republican political campaigns and for elected officials. He also reportedly made some money on the side as a personal trainer.

That resume is not exactly the "real world" business experience to which the Romney campaign has staked its argument.