Everyone is now likely aware that Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan would be his running mate. As soon as the information was released via the Romney campaign's mobile app, the internet exploded with coverage and analysis. While many have speculated on the risks and the possible benefits of picking a figure who has presented two harsh, uncompromising federal budgets, few have come to the realization that the Romney campaign is in a similar set of circumstances to the McCain campaign in 2008.
In 2008, the polls indicated that Sen. McCain campaign was in a fairly close race with Barack Obama, but knew that after eight years of President Bush it would be hard to convince independents and undecideds to reject the fresh-faced candidate who appeared to be preaching a new direction for America. With this knowledge, they made a concerted effort to pick a candidate that would excite the conservative base.
While the similarity might not be immediately evident, consider that even the Romney campaign labeled the Romney/Ryan ticket as "America's Comeback Team." While there might be more than one way to interpret that label, it seems like a frank admission that Romney's attempt to make this election strictly a referendum on Obama and the anemic recovery was a losing strategy. As much as people are unsatisfied with the economy and Obama's presidency, they are not so displeased that they will automatically switch to team Romney.
This means Mitt Romney needed something to change the game, just as John McCain did in 2008. The only difference is Sarah Palin was unquestionably unfit to potentially be president, and was seen by many as a cheap and irresponsible attempt to pander to women, and while Paul Ryan is an ideological, supply side, deficit hawk, he is a bright and capable human being. Paul Ryan is the type of game-changing Vice Presidential candidate that the GOP actually needed when they were too busy limiting themselves to women and minorities.
Paul Ryan is a young, fiscally conservative congressman from a state that will likely be in play in 2012, all while being somewhat removed from the socially conservative branch of the party. Mr. Ryan may not be a huge hit with independents, but he will likely help secure the support from the people who have agreed with the ideas of limited government and deficit reduction, but have been repelled by the reactionary socially conservative aspects of the party.