One big difference between Paul Ryan and other potential VP picks was Ryan’s recognizable legislative record. His past budget proposals have created storms of controversy, focusing debate on tax policy and entitlement programs. Arguably, the president and Democrats in Congress won these debates, seeing as many of the changes outlined by Ryan–a Medicare “voucher” program, lowering top tax rates–are now too taboo to even consider. Still, the budget proposals were crucial in solidifying Paul Ryan’s credentials with far-right Republicans. For Mitt, this made the seven-term congressman an appealing choice: Ryan can excite the GOP base, and Romney won’t worry about Palin-esque gaffes or inexperience. He’s Michelle Bachman without the crazy; Joe Lieberman if his mother had read more Ayn Rand.
Ryan’s selection was an indication that the Romney campaign valued shifting the entire national dialogue instead of targeting certain swing states or demographics.
That said, none of this seems to matter given the intense antagonism between Ryan and seniors in Florida. This enormous voting bloc was by no means completely behind President Obama, and without their support, Romney has little chance of winning the Sunshine State. Without Florida, Romney can’t win the electoral college. Game over.