A recent USA Today/Gallup poll seems to indicate that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is a poorer pick — historically speaking — for a vice presidential running mate than was then Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska in 2008 and then former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in 2000.
According to the poll, Ryan is seen by 42 percent of the respondents (registered voters) as a “fair” or “poor” choice by the Mitt Romney campaign. Only 39 percent said he was an “excellent” or “pretty good” selection for the VP spot on the Republican ticket.
In comparison to his recent predecessors, he doesn’t fare all that well. The 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, had a 46 percent “excellent/pretty good” rating and a 37 percent “fair/poor” rating. And Cheney, who would go on to be vice president for President George W. Bush for eight years, polled a 55 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
Even the much-maligned then Sen. Dan Quayle, President George H. W. Bush’s selection for VP, had a higher “excellent/pretty good” rating back in 1988. He would also become vice president.
Still, Paul Ryan’s “fair/poor” rating was better than Quayle’s. Ryan’s 42 percent was 10 points lower than the Indiana senator’s.
Not being overly thrilled with a candidate, however, is not an indicator of ascension to the office that could lead to the presidency (should something untoward occur to the president health-wise or politically and he could no longer continue his job as commander-in-chief). Quayle polled a resounding 62 percent “not qualified” when American voters were asked if he was qualified to be president. Ryan polled at nearly half (48 percent) as “qualified,” with only 29 percent responding that he was not.
Sarah Palin, incidentally, was deemed qualified by 39 percent and unqualified by 33 percent.
Ryan was chosen by Romney over various Republican contenders like Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. The Romney campaign made its announcement Saturday in Virginia as the campaign began a tour through four swing states.
The reaction seemed to be that both Democrats and Republicans welcomed the seven-term congressman to the race.
President Obama’s senior campaign advisor, David Axelrod, after labeling Ryan a “certifiable right-wing ideologue,” noted that the initial enthusiasm for Ryan was reminiscent of that generated just after Sarah Palin was named to the McCain ticket. ” I don’t think it worked out very well,” he told CBS News’ “This Morning” Monday . “When the reality catches up with the moment, it’s not going to be a plus for Gov. Romney.”
But CNN contributor and former Secretary of Education William Bennett saw the Ryan addition to the ticket a plus. Citing his budgetary acumen in an Op-Ed piece for CNN , and positing that Ryan would help Romney “rein in out-of-control spending, cut the debt and reform crumbling entitlement programs,” Bennett said the Wisconsin legislator was the “right choice for such a time” as America now faces.
But could Romney have made a more “excellent/pretty good” choice for his vice presidential running mate? The answer to that question will remain relegated to the unknown and fodder for “what if” speculation as it was not a question put forth in the USA Today/Gallup poll.