Has a Pennsylvania court done what the Romney campaign has been unable to: Erase President Obama's advantage in the state?
Joe Biden and Paul Ryan were the Capitol Hill veterans known for friendly relations - sometimes even working relations - across the aisle. Mitt Romney was the competent pragmatist who turned around the 2002 Olympics and enacted health coverage for almost everyone in Massachusetts. Barack Obama was the youthful symbol of hope and change.
Where are these people and will we ever see them again?
The latest exchange of Campaign 2012 - Romney calling Obama a desperate, angry candidate running a reckless, hate-filled campaign, and Obama's team responding by calling Romney "unhinged" - was the most ferocious so far. This is not a campaign destined to enhance reputations. The only question is how much wreckage it leaves behind.
In politics, nothing says you're the future more than getting a coveted prime time speaking slot at a national convention. Except when it doesn't. Keep that in mind as the two parties fill those slots for the upcoming conventions in Tampa and Charlotte. It can get pretty confusing.
Ever since Mitt Romney named Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick, he's been touting the Wisconsin Republican's bipartisan credentials. "This guy's a real leader," Romney said in their joint 60 Minutes appearance. "He's reached across the aisle. He's worked with Democrats, Republicans. Tried to take on the toughest issues America faces."
Should Mitt Romney win, would Vice President Elect Paul Ryan remain in the House until inauguration day? It's a cart-before-the-House question but an intriguing one.
Romney-Ryan constitutes, very possibly, the best-looking ticket in American political history. Mitt Romney is so textbook handsome that he resembles a toy action-figure president. Paul Ryan's youthful, chiseled face and piercing blue eyes are already making hearts flutter around the political world. And no doubt Romney's bold choice for veep - which has made most people forget, for the moment, Bain Capital and his undisclosed tax returns-- will give the Republican presumptive nominee some pop in the polls. For the moment.
But once the excitement surrounding Ryan subsides, the long, ideological slog of this presidential race will resume, and with greater force than before. The stakes will be, once again, about the stark conceptual choice that American voters now face. Romney's selection of Ryan must be seen as part of a continuum of hard-line positions that the GOP candidate, under constant pressure from an often hostile right, has laid out on everything from immigration to health care to foreign policy.
And with his veep choice Romney is sending a message to the American electorate, more forthrightly than ever, that he won't be moving to the middle after all. He seems to be affirming that he is just about as ideologically conservative and as captured by the GOP base as Obama has been painting him.
Watching Mitt Romney on the campaign trail this weekend
Mitt Romney has changed the subject on two fronts with his interesting choice of running mate. At least for the moment people are talking about the soon-to-be Republican nominee's boldness instead of his taxes or Bain Capital career. And he has certainly ensured that government spending will be front and center in the presidential campaign.
But, as House Speaker John Boehner often has asked, where are the jobs?
The 2012 presidential campaign has been remarkable so far for mudslinging on both sides and an absence of a serious debate about pressing issues facing the country, such as the budget deficit and the economy's long-term health.
That is about to change. Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate has the potential to bring a new clarity to the race by offering voters a choice between two starkly different visions for economic policy.
Hoping that the campaign would end up as a referendum on the anemic economy and high unemployment, Romney has touted his background as a businessman and insisted he would do a better job than Obama of reviving growth. But the economic prescriptions he has laid out so far are strikingly lacking in detail, especially on the issue of how he would rein in ballooning budget deficits.
As a sitting president, Obama has offered more detailed economic plans, including calling for more money to hire teachers and pay for infrastructure projects. But like Romney, he has avoided laying out specifics on how he would tackle big issues like streamlining the tax code and curbing the deficit.
Instead of a debate over the issues, the last few weeks have seen a volley of attacks over misleading campaign ads, including one by the Romney camp inaccurately accusing Obama of trying to gut welfare reform and a Democratic ad implying that Romney was to blame for the death from cancer of a steel worker's wife. The focus on the dueling campaign ads was preceded by a week in which Romney's verbal gaffes on an overseas trip dominated attention.
The Paul Ryan pick will instantly change the conversation toward the very detailed plan the Republican congressman has laid out for taming the deficit and curtailing the growth of entitlement programs such as Medicare.
With the Ryan plan at the center of the debate, the campaign will see a clash between a Republican vision that focuses on "supply side" policies of keeping taxes low for businesses and investors while trimming the social safety net versus a Democratic vision that includes a greater role for government in making targeted investments in areas like education.
Both campaigns are sure to resort to hyperbole, with Democrats warning that the Republican policies would impoverish senior citizens and Republicans accusing Obama of wanting to create a European-style social democracy.
But at its core, the debate will be over big issues and that would be a change voters would probably welcome.
No vice-presidential pick can guarantee his home state. But one influential Republican strategist, who voiced his dismay only on background, told National Journal on Saturday that Portman could have added between 1.5 and two points for Romney in Ohio -- and Ryan could make it harder to win here.
Paul Ryan is having a pretty good day. Here are six other winners who will be smiling all day:
If anyone had any doubts that foreign policy will take a back seat in the 2012 strategy of Republican Mitt Romney, his choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate should eliminate that. Unlike Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, one of the also rans, Ryan has no foreign policy chops. His expertise and his reputation were built in the domestic arena on the budget.
Romney has built a ticket with the fewest foreign policy credentials since 1936 when Republicans paired Kansas Gov. Alf Landon with New Hampshire publisher Frank Knox. That, like today, was an election dominated by the domestic economy. Romney-Ryan also gives the nation its first election since 1944 with no military veteran on either of the two tickets.
Despite the mixed reviews Romney received for his recent overseas foray to England, Israel and Poland, the Republican challenger has decided he can weather any attacks on his foreign policies. In 23 minutes of speeches in Norfolk, there was not even a mention of the international. With Ryan at his side Romney is betting that 2012 will be a year when voters don't really care about what's happening across the ocean, or at least not enough to determine their votes.