Congressman Paul Ryan a brave pick by Mitt Romney for Vice President - Charismatic Irish American will force a major economic debate in fall campaign


Some of the math isn't promising. Only two sitting House members were selected for the vice presidential spot since 1948 by either party. Both tickets lost and neither VP pick ever held elected office again.

Ryan’s age is another factor. At 42 he is the third-youngest vice presidential selection since World War II, after Richard Nixon, 39, in 1952 and Dan Quayle, 41, in 1988.

According to the Boston Herald, political science researchers and academics debate whether running mates have any effect at all on presidential elections. In a 2001 paper called 'Requiem for a Lightweight,' author David Romero of the University of Texas argued they have none.

Even GOP strategist Karl Rove agrees: "Running mates haven’t decided an election in more than a half-century," he wrote in The Wall Street Journal last week.

But Ryan may not have gotten the memo. Since the start of 2012 Ryan’s appearances on Sunday news shows rank him second only to Ron Paul, who ran for president. Ryan has repeatedly appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CNBC and other channels.

Ryan may be a practicing Catholic but that was not enough to stop the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ruling his budget would hurt the poor and vulnerable.  Bishops urged lawmakers to 'resist for moral and human reasons' the cuts to hunger and nutrition programs in the Ryan budget.

Recently more than 80 professors and administrators at Georgetown University signed a letter to Ryan before his appearance at the famous Catholic school accusing him of wrongly citing Catholic teaching to argue for his budget.

Ryan's budget calls for biting cuts in Medicaid and a total overhaul of Medicare for people currently under the age of 55, making both Ryan and his policies a political lightning rod.

Romney will benefit from choosing a charismatic running mate popular with economic conservatives, but he could also be opening himself up to the divisive shortcomings of that choice too. Time will tell.