After months of intense speculation about who Mitt Romney would select as his running mate -- everyone from senators Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio to governors Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie -- it comes down to a 42-year-old newbie congressman: Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
If that doesn't make some Republicans sweat just a tad, then they should check their A/C.
But as I told one election watcher, the Wisconsin native must have been the best pick of the litter.
Ryan's the kid you pick for your team because he always remembers to throw to you first.
Christmas came early for the folks over at Saturday Night Live. With material like this, skits write themselves.
Mark my words, there will be at least one reference to Ryan looking like one of Romney's kids. That's a gimme.
Whatever concerns popped during his vetting must have been mild compared to the others being considered.
I really want to see those other score cards. What, could snoozefest Rob Portman turn out to actually be a coke-snorting fiend? One can only dream.
There's no safe pick out there. Go too boring, you can't excite people; go too wacky, you get a media circus.
Here's my off-the-cuff feeling on Ryan: He won't embarrass Romney and he's good under pressure. No tell-all book and HBO special in the works here. That's about the best you can hope for.
Romney called Ryan "an intellectual leader of the Republican Party" today, then took it one step further, saying "I don't know of anyone who doesn't respect his character and judgment."
He would know. The vetting process probably included calls to Ryan's kindergarten teacher. "Paul was a nice boy. He painted inside the lines."
But the Obama spin squad must be in heaven thinking up soundbites to attack Ryan's "radical" budget footwork in a head-to-head with Vice President Joe Biden.
"Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.
He's right, but he's wrong. A hard-nosed fiscal conservative is what this country needs right now. We can't spend our way into prosperity (yeah, I can write soundbites too, Jimbo).
Actually, Ryan's not just any old fiscal hawk -- he's said to be a Randist. (Though he dismissed Ayn Rand's philosophy as "atheist" earlier this year, the Atlas Society, a group dedicated to her teachings, praised the choice of Ryan to Politico today.)
Be still my beating heart.
But let's go back to the announcement for just a second. Where was the big primetime announcement treatment?
Think back, way back to 2008, when Sen. John McCain announced then relatively-unknown Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin to throngs of screaming, excited fans.
It was carried live nationwide, on a Friday during primetime. The whole country watched transfixed wondering: "Do Alaskans really sound like that?"
Today's announcement, at 6 a.m. PST for us West Coasters, on Saturday (a holy day for many Americans) seemed well, less than the pop-bang many expected after a veepstakes watch complete with hundreds of Wiki updates and an app.
Really? There's an app for that, too? Double ugh.
Bottom line: Ryan looked confident, comfortable, and ready for the national media spotlight. More important, the presumptive Republican nominee looked equally calm, cool, and collected.
The wave of scrutiny is cresting now. We're going to learn every little insignificant detail of this guy's life, but hopefully Romney already knows them, too.
And with any luck, his name on the ticket will give Romney a double bounce through the Republican National Convention in Tampa just over two weeks from now.
Follow me @erica_holloway.
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