Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential choice, made the right decision in picking Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his runningmate for this November’s showdown election with President Barack Obama.

Ryan is the right choice for Republicans — and Democrats.

To Republicans, especially those of the Tea Party persuasion, he adds reassurance that Romney is catering to their beliefs of limited, fiscally conservative government. Ryan’s budget expertise will shine a continuous spotlight on the deficit and his conviction the nation needs to dramatically change its spending ways — including Medicare and Social Security. Those are critical issues that deserve discussion and examination.

Ryan certainly provides a clear line between Republicans and Democrats.

That’s also why he’s a good choice from the Democrats’ standpoint. They will be happy to repeatedly point out Ryan’s austere measures to achieve a balanced budget. He also will draw flak for wanting to partially privatize Social Security during the Bush years. Dems also will point out that Ryan voted for the Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq — both major reasons the nation’s debt has soared.

Ryan also was a safe choice for Romney — he didn’t try to make inroads in the Hispanic or female voting blocs by picking a Hispanic or a woman. Picking a Hispanic, such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida or Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, might have seemed disingenuous. Besides, there’s really no evidence such a pick would have brought any more votes from either bloc.

Ryan is a Catholic and that will be important for religious conservatives, who have been a more than a bit wary of Romney’s devout Mormon beliefs. Of course, Vice President Joe Biden is also Catholic. The differences in the two men could be seen as representative of the polarization within the Catholic church.

Expect the Democrats to pick away at the Romney-Ryan ticket as a highly privileged pair. Ryan, 42, worked as a marketing consultant for his family before becoming a congressman. At this point in time, Congress, in case you haven’t noticed, is one of the least popular jobs in the country.

Voters will be forced to listen, ad naseum, to political attacks with little substance from both sides.

Yet we are hopeful that there will be some serious, specific debate. Romney and Ryan can use Ryan’s budget as a Republican roadmap for reducing government. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden can be expected to offer a blue-collar blueprint for a national recovery at all economic levels.

Of course, it’s also important to remember the vice-presidential choice usually has little to do with the final outcome — although Lyndon Johnson as John F. Kennedy’s runningmate was certainly an exception.

Nonetheless, in making Ryan his runningmate, Romney has given voters just what they need: A clear choice in November. Republicans can feel assured of a strongly conservative ticket. Democrats can challenge it for exactly the same reasons.

Game on.

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