By Esme Murphy

By picking Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has put the nation on a path of choosing between two very different political and fiscal philosophies.

Even Republicans, and especially conservatives, have been critical of Romney for being fuzzy on key issues.

That is not the case with Congressman Ryan. The Ryan budget would overhaul Medicare and Social Security and sharply cut entitlements.

It is a budget that has been a lightning rod for Democrats.

The Romney campaign has sought to make the election a referendum on the state of the nation’s economy. But with the Ryan pick, the election may in fact turn out to be at least in part a referendum on Ryan’s fiscal agenda.

The pick comes at a critical time for the Romney campaign. National polls this week show President Obama opening a statistically significant lead. A Fox News poll showed President Obama leading by 9 points, 49 to 40 percent.

But, in the end, it is not the popular vote that matters. The Electoral College is what decides who wins, and Wisconsin’s 11 electoral votes are critical. A Quinnipiac poll this week of Wisconsin voters showed the President leading Romney by 6 points.

Can Paul Ryan deliver Wisconsin? Historically, polls have shown that voters cast their vote for the person at the top of the ticket and that a running mate has little impact on their ballot decision.

But by choosing Ryan, Romney has made a bold pick that more than any other running mate pick in recent history will put a sharp focus on the man running for the No. 2 spot.


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