Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) heaped praise Sunday on Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, saying it was a “bold” decision as his choice of Sarah Palin in 2008 was.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” McCain didn’t compare Ryan to Palin on substance, but instead described him as a similarly gutsy choice because other candidates may have better helped Romney win their swing state.
“First of all, the selection is made as to who will best help you get nominated and who you believe is best suited for the role of vice president of the United States,” the senator said. “At that time — I’m still proud of my running mate. I’m proud of Sarah and her family and I’m proud of the work that we did.”
“I think that in this case it is also a bold choice,” he continued. “Many people thought that other people who were being considered might bring home those states into the Romney column. I think this is a pretty bold choice as well. And I think it’s a good matchup because of Paul Ryan’s ability to carry a Romney agenda through the Congress of the United States, and his intimate knowledge of the budget.”
Some political observers expected Romney to make a “safe” choice — someone like Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman, the latter of who could have helped Romney in his home state of Ohio. Ryan, by contrast, may alter the shape of the race, and comes with high risks and rewards.
With over a decade of legislative experience and the current chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan is arguably far more qualified than Palin. But there are similarities: both are young, dynamic conservative firebrands selected by relatively moderate nominees.
Like Palin did, Ryan is already firing up the conservative base. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul announced on Twitter that the campaign raised $3.5 million in 24 hours after the announcement. Also like Palin, Ryan has a history of taking controversial positions that could easily be painted outside the mainstream.
Asked if he thinks Ryan will overshadow Romney, McCain quipped, “I had that problem.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.