While I may question the political wisdom of Mitt Romney choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, making the selection public relatively early is a smart move. One of the most valuable assets any political campaign has is the candidate’s time, which is inherently limited. Picking a running mate early is as close a campaign can get to doubling this limited resource.
While sending the VP pick to events is an imperfect substitute for the actual Presidential nominee, it is by far the next best thing. No other possible surrogate has anywhere near the heft, media value or public draw.
A quick look at Ryan’s official schedule from the campaign shows that Ryan is scheduled to go to at least ten fundraisers in the two weeks before the Republican National Convention. Ryan has proven to be a prolific fundraiser, and this should help Romney again win the fundraising race for another month. In addition, Ryan is likely to do numerous other events, small stops and interviews. This is all money that would not have been raised and events that would not have been attended if Romney had waited until the convention to name his running mate.
The small benefit of making your convention more suspenseful by waiting to announce your running mate there simply can’t compare to many benefits of allowing your campaign to cover more ground and raise more money for two weeks. It’s a sad statement about our politics that fundraising is so critical to the campaign. But since it is, having an official running mate as early as possible who can start calling donors and going to fundraisers is probably an easy way to bring in more cash.