Just a few minutes after 7 a.m. on Saturday, Mitt Romney took a step many political experts did not think he would -- choosing a controversial and bold running mate and making one of the most important announcements of his campaign at a time many did not expect.
Rep. Paul Ryan admits that he is the poster child for controversial proposals to reform the nation's entitlement programs: For workers now under the age of 55, seniors would be given the option of choosing a private program instead of the traditional Medicare program and would receive money to offset the premium they have to pay. Federal spending for Medicaid would be sent to the states to manage, and the Social Security retirement age would gradually be raised to 70.
Because of those positions and his full-throttled defense of them, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger calls the pick "a risky choice that could hurt Mitt Romney" and also said it "may be too risky, but is bold."
Republican consultant Ford O'Connell said making a bold choice like Ryan was necessary.
"With Mitt Romney losing ground to President Obama in the polls, I don't see the selection of Paul Ryan as 'risky,' I see the choice as bold and necessary," O'Connell wrote in an email to CNN. "Ryan will certainly help Romney shore up his support with the GOP base, and it will send a clear message to independent voters that Romney is serious about getting the country's fiscal house in order and putting Americans back to work."
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen says the Ryan pick is, "an opportunity for the Romney campaign to go on the offense."
Ryan is seen as a plainspoken Midwesterner who doesn't back down from positions.
"If you don't address these issues now, they're going to steamroll us as a country. And the issue is the more you delay fixing these problems, the much uglier the solutions are going to be," Ryan told Borger in an interview last year. "We literally go about $10 trillion deeper in the hole of our unfunded government promises every year we delay fixing the problem."
Several leading conservative voices, including the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal, had pushed Romney this week to be bold.
"The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline," the Journal said in an editorial on Thursday.