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Veepstakes: Why rise of Paul Ryan, Chris Christie signals trouble for Romney

Beltway chatterers are telling Mitt Romney, who is down in the polls, he needs to go bold with his choice of running mate – and are pointing to Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Chris Christie.

By Staff writer / August 10, 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday. Conservative thought leaders are turning up the heat on Romney to go bold in his choice of running mate – and are pointing to Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Chris Christie.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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First Paul Ryan, now Chris Christie. Conservative thought leaders are turning up the heat on Mitt Romney to go bold in his choice of running mate – and away from the “safe” choices of Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty.

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The call for Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin – the young Budget Committee chairman dubbed the intellectual leader of the GOP – has more backers, including The Wall Street Journal editorial page and top editors at The Weekly Standard. The chattering classes treat Governor Christie of New Jersey, floated for vice president by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, as a less serious possibility, given his blunt style, big persona, and short time in office.

But the larger point is this: The conventional wisdom that Mr. Romney will play it safe, and choose between Senator Portman of Ohio and former Governor Pawlenty, has sparked worry among some leading Republicans.

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Why? Just look at the polls. Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is clearly trailing President Obama, and conservatives are worried that loyal but bland understudies won’t help give Romney’s candidacy the juice it apparently needs. The most recent polls, CNN/Opinion Research and Fox News, have Obama up by seven and nine percentage points, respectively.

In their Weekly Standard piece, Stephen Hayes and William Kristol tackle the argument that “the Ryan budget” – a bold, controversial blueprint for spending cuts and entitlement reforms – makes the congressman a risky choice. Romney embraced the Ryan plan during the primaries, and will continue to campaign on it, they say, so why not have its author out there making the case himself?  

“Having Paul Ryan on the ticket may well make it easier to defend the plan convincingly,” Messrs. Hayes and Kristol write. “Ryan's pretty good at that.”

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