Weekly Standard columnist Bill Kristol, one of Ryan’s most ardent supporters, predicted that the Wisconsin Republican is not going to follow in the footsteps of other unsuccessful vice-presidential nominees. He is “not going to do what John Edwards did in ‘04, just to be an outside figure campaigning for president,” Kristol said. “He’s not going to be a Palin.”
Rather, he argued, Ryan is likely to stay in the House and play a hand in negotiating the fiscal deals that need to be made or pushing for conservative alternatives, because even with an Obama victory, “something has to happen on taxes and entitlements and the deficit.”
Kristol sees Ryan as determined to pursue his agenda of fiscal restraint. “He’s in it for the policy,” Kristol said. “He’s in it for the governing. . . . He’s an able guy. He can do a lot of things in a lot of places.”
Even in defeat, other Ryan backers say, the Wisconsin Republican has already had an outsize role in shaping the party’s positions. Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, contends that Ryan ultimately was more successful in pushing Romney to the right than Romney was in bringing his running mate closer to the center.
Ryan’s path to the GOP nomination in 2016 — should he choose to run — would not necessarily be an easy one. With Obama leaving office, both parties will engage in free-for-all primaries. On the GOP side, challengers would undoubtedly seek to brand Ryan as a failed candidate rather than a rising star.
“Republican presidential politics famously has the next-in-line dynamic,” Lowry said, discussing Ryan’s chances. “Having been the vice-presidential nominee would perhaps give him that status, but I’m not sure about that. . . . In Republican politics, for better or worse, you want to be the establishment front-runner, and I just think it’s too soon to say” whether Ryan would grab that position.