Update Saturday 6:17 am ET: The Romney campaign has officially announced through a press release that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will be Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate.
Sonic Boom (via NBC News):
Campaign sources indicate that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, NBC News reported Friday night. Earlier Romney's campaign said in a statement that it would announce a running mate at 9 a.m. ET Saturday morning in Norfolk, Va., just before he begins a four-day bus tour in the battleground state.
I spoke with a high-level Romney campaign source earlier this evening, who confirmed that the announcement will come at approximately 9am ET on Saturday, though he could not officially confirm that Ryan is the pick. The unveiling will occur at a rally in Norfolk, VA -- with the (ahem) U.S.S. Wisconsin as a backdrop. Another well-placed GOP source informs me that party operatives are being told to prepare for a Ryan VP roll-out. For additional details, read the Weekly Standard's reportage, which has been all over this. A chartered plane has also been spotted in Ryan's home town, so all signs point to Ryan. This is happening. ABC News is reporting that top other contenders such as Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty and Marco Rubio have been informed that they will not be Romney's running mate. There's a faint possibility that this is a giant head-fake, but I sincerely doubt it. Multiple sources have told me similar things, plus the Romney campaign would be crazy to leak a name like Paul Ryan, only to surprisingly pick, say, Tim Pawlenty.
Any way you slice it, this is a game-changer. As I wrote earlier this week, Paul Ryan is one of the sunniest, most likeable conservatives on the scene today. He's also the party's top wonk and is completely fluent in fiscal issues. I predict that Democrats will publicly gloat over this pick ("he'll be so easy to demonize!"), even as they privately worry. Paul Ryan is earnest, smart, articulate, attractive, calm, good-humored, and exceptionally gifted in explaining his case in persuasive and unthreatening terms. He's from the Midwest, has blue collar appeal (unlike Romney, he did not grow up wealthy), and has a beautiful young family. The Left will launch vicious and totally dishonest attacks, as they have throughout the last two years of budget debates. But never before has Paul Ryan enjoyed a larger platform from which to make his case to the American public: The country is going broke, a fiscal calamity awaits, but we can avoid it if we take responsible, urgent action. This campaign is about to get a major (and needed) injection of seriousness.
It's time to brush up on Paul Ryan's budget -- on what it does and does not propose. Let's also recall that Ryan's bipartisan Medicare reform (which he co-authored with liberal Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden) does not affect anyone over the age of 55. Period. This message will need to be hammered in multiple ads and played on a loop in Florida, as "scare granny" tactics from Democrats will be off the charts. Medicare's own bookkeepers warn that the program will be insolvent within 12 years without meaningful reforms. Barack Obama has no plan on this front, aside from robbing $500 Billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, and empowering an unelected panel of bureaucrats to ration care. Paul Ryan is very adept at making this case, and every bit of that skill will be essential over the coming three months. Barack Obama's reckless budgets have been unanimously defeated for two consecutive years, and the Senate has not produced a budget in over 1,200 days. The president -- by his own administration's admission -- has no plan to deal with our long term debt, which threatens to swallow our economy and change the very nature of the American idea. Whether we like it or not, this is a debate America must have. Paul Ryan is one of the very best -- if not the best -- conservative communicators on the biggest issue of our time. Buckle up, guys. This is going to get intense.
Finally, this is a bold pick by Mitt Romney. It underscores his appreciation of the national moment and the seriousness of our economic and fiscal state. It should also eliminate any doubts about Romney's commitment to Obamacare repeal and entitlement reform, Paul Ryan's top issues. Parting thoughts: (1) Regardless of where this campaign goes, I cannot wait for the Vice Presidential debate. (2) Two clips:
UPDATE - The Ryan family:
UPDATE II - www.RomneyRyan.com "America's Comeback Team."
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography