Romney picks ideas man, Paul Ryan

Image copyright AP
Image caption Paul Ryan: Passionate about ideas

Forty-two-year-old Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is Mitt Romney's choice as vice-presidential running mate.

It is a bold and ideological choice for a candidate who has been fairly cautious.

The Romney campaign are haunted by John McCain's choice in 2008 of Sarah Palin. She certainly enlivened an already very lively campaign, but did much to put off the middle ground.

Ryan will perhaps be seen by some as another "boring white man", but in political terms he's pretty exciting.

He's best known for producing a controversial conservative budget plan, which among other things, puts medical help for the poorest in the hands of the individual states.

The Democrats will be prepared to attack, and some seem to be salivating at the opportunity.

When it was published, President Obama dismissed Ryan's budget plan: "I believe it paints a vision of our future that's deeply pessimistic.

"There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires."

But supporters say it is a realistic and sensible attempt to deal with America's huge spending problems.

Conservatives will like the pick.

Dan McLaughlin of the influential conservative blog Redstate wrote a day or two ago: "Mr Ryan can make his case in a reasonable and unthreatening way.

"He doesn't get mad, or at least he doesn't show it. Like Reagan, he has a basic cheerfulness and Midwestern equanimity."

Paul Ryan is passionate about ideas, and if he is chosen it may elevate a campaign which has looked dirty and petty in recent days.