Even since Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate he has been trying to have it both ways. Romney is clearly benefiting from the excitement among conservatives who feel the selection of Ryan is a signal that Romney has embraced Ryan’s ideas. At the same time Romney is trying to claim the media can’t hold him accountable for Ryan’s ideas, because Romney as the nominee will set the tickets’ policy agenda. Despite what Romney may try to claim to avoid uncomfortable questions about, e.g., wanting to “voucherize” Medicare by selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney has fully embraced Paul Ryan’s budget and related tax proposals and spending cuts.
Romney was not forced to pick Ryan. This was not a situation where the only way Romney could secure the delegates necessary to win the nomination was by reluctantly accepting onto the ticket someone with whom he disagreed. Romney had the freedom to choose almost anyone to be his running mate, and he deliberately chose Ryan over many other possible selections.
The one claim to prominence Ryan has going for him is his budget. He is not a popular state wide politician from a swing state that you would select primarily for electoral college concerns. You don’t choose Ryan unless you are choosing him because of what his budget views convey to voters. You don’t select someone like Ryan for such an important position unless you strongly agree with Ryan on most issues.
More importantly, even on the off chance Romney doesn’t explicitly embrace Ryan’s ideas, he has still taken a huge step towards helping Ryan’s ideas become a reality. A significant number of Vice Presidents eventually became Presidents, including George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, etc… Even if Romney doesn’t attempt to implement Ryan’s plans, Romney is making Ryan one bad case of pneumonia, one heart attack or one pretzel choking away from becoming President. While Romney may try to pretend he won’t implement Ryan’s top budget goals, there is no doubt a President Ryan would. So by choosing him as his running mate, Romney has made President Ryan a very real possibility.
If Romney doesn’t support most of Ryan’s budget he could have made that clear by simply selecting anyone but Ryan as his running mate. By choosing Ryan, Romney has not only signaled that Ryan’s ideas are acceptable to him and should be rewarded, he’s also made it much more likely that Ryan will eventually have the power to implement his budget. Regardless of what Romney may say, he has knowingly made it much more likely Ryan’s budget will be implemented. Romney now owns the Paul Ryan budget.