If media reports are accurate, Mitt Romney is set to announce his vice presidential pick today at 8:45 a.m. (E.T.) during a morning campaign event in Virginia. Based on twitter feeds, the early betting indicates that Paul Ryan is the choice. If Romney does announce Ryan as his pick today, this will be the earliest announcement – as measured by the number of days before the candidate’s party convention – of a vice presidential choice by any presidential candidate, with the exception of John Kerry in 2004, dating back to 1976. I’ll have much more to say about this later today, but for now I would point out that Ryan – if he’s the pick – has some of the strengths I mentioned regarding Rob Portman: he’s a Washington insider with deep knowledge of budget politics. In short, he’s Portman, but with the pizazz that Portman – and Tim Pawlenty – lack. If Ryan is the pick, Republican conservatives are going to be very very pleased. As an added plus for Romney, Ryan might make Wisconsin competitive. But I do find it interesting that Romney felt compelled to announce his VP pick this far in advance of the Republican Party convention. My guess – and it is only a guess – is that his decision was influenced in part by recent national polls suggesting Obama had extended his “lead”. Romney is hoping that by announcing the pick this early, he might capture the media headlines and stem, at least for the moment, the seeming erosion in polling support. I don’t doubt that Romney’s announcement of his VP pick will dominate media coverage for the next several days (although I do question his decision to announce the pick on a weekend!) But if history is any guide it won’t have any lasting impact on the 2012 presidential race, beyond a short-term polling bump. And, for what it is worth (which is next to nothing), Condi Rice was the better choice. My mistake, however, was not in predicting that Rice would be the choice – it was in arguing that Romney would hold off on announcing his pick until shortly before the Republican convention, as almost all previous candidates have done.
I’ll have more to say on this later today .