Paul Ryan's star rising with Romney?
These days, you hear it everywhere — from Republican donors and veteran operatives, and at Capitol Hill watering holes. A few weeks ago, it was a wishful rumor floating in the Beltway ether. Now, sources close to the Romney campaign say it’s for real, that the taciturn former Massachusetts governor is quietly warming to the idea.
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the budget king of the GOP, may be Mitt Romney’s veep.
“Ryan is very highly respected not only by the candidate, but by Romney’s policy shop,” says Tom Rath, a Romney adviser. “Beyond the political relationship, he has a good personal relationship with Romney, and he has been a strong and reliable surrogate since the primary.”
For months, Ryan has been considered a dark horse for the number-two spot. At age 42, he has accomplished much, such as winning seven straight congressional races and authoring his party’s blueprint for entitlement reform. But his lack of executive experience, and his criticism of the Bay State’s health-care program, made his chances look relatively remote.
Yet behind the scenes, Ryan’s stock has been steadily rising. Romney, a former Bain Capital consultant who relishes data and metrics, has clicked with the youthful Badger State wonk. They have campaigned together and speak frequently on the phone, comparing notes on policy and strategy. And earlier this year, with Ryan’s blessing, Romney hired three of Ryan’s Budget Committee advisers to help him in Boston.
“Romney has spoken out about how we can’t let ourselves evolve into an entitlement society, so you can see why Ryan is attracted to Romney,” says former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour. “You can also see why Romney likes Ryan: He’s bright, articulate, and courageous. He’s willing to tell the truth to the American people, and he understands entrepreneurship. He’s also from Wisconsin, which is an important state.”
In late June, National Review Online reported that the Romney campaign was seriously vetting Ryan — and that Ryan had shared paperwork detailing his financial and personal records with a handful of Romney’s Boston-based counselors.
Since then, sources say, Ryan has slowly floated to the top of Romney’s vice-presidential shortlist. In conversations with senior advisers and donors — at the campaign’s summer retreat in Park City, Utah, and at his lakefront home in New Hampshire — Romney has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the Wisconsin lawmaker. ...