Romney makes his choiceThis is unlikely to squelch the caricature of Mr Romney as a heartless elitist. While programmes for the poor would be cut, the "path to prosperity", as Mr Ryan's plan is titled, is paved with tax cuts for businesses and individuals. The plan would also transform Medicare into a voucher system aimed at controlling costs.
Democratic attack dogs are salivating. The new ticket will undoubtedly face charges of "ending Medicare as we know it", an attack that was successfully field-tested in an upstate New York House race last year.
With the pick, Mr Romney has shored up his base. But conservatives already seemed rather motivated to boot Barack Obama from office. Will Mr Ryan cost him a share of the centre, just as Sarah Palin did John McCain? Mr Ryan is a different political animal—more substantive and less vitriolic—but coming from the House he is associated with a specific form of conservatism that is all about insurgency, purity and Washington dysfunction. Remember, it was Mr Ryan's polarising budget plan that attempted to scupper an earlier bipartisan deal.
Conservatives are rejoicing. They welcome an honest fight over entitlement reform and the budget. In a contest of personalities, Barack Obama would likely defeat Mr Romney. The poor economy doesn't seem to be taking a toll on the incumbent. But the Republicans feel they have the upper hand if the election is seen as a choice between two divergent views of the role and size of government. Democrats, of course, feel the same way.
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