Bill Kristol and Stephen Hayes caused a stir this week when they encouraged Mitt Romney to pick Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as his running mate.
The conservative Weekly Standard authors based their argument for Ryan on the premise that Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has endorsed the House Budget Committee chairman's budget anyway, and is going to be attacked for it by President Barack Obama's campaign no matter what.
"If Ryan’s budget is going to be a central part of the debate over the next three months, who better to explain and defend it than Paul Ryan?" Kristol and Hayes wrote.
Yuval Levin, a former White House policy adviser for President George W. Bush who has been one of the most authoritative conservative voices arguing in favor of fundamental reform of entitlement programs like Medicare, told The Huffington Post that he agrees with Kristol and Hayes.
"The fact is that you can't choose whether to run on this or not anymore," Levin said of the Ryan budget and of his Medicare reforms. "Obama will make [Romney] run on this because Democrats continue to think that they have a huge advantage by pushing the issue. And I think there's going to be a kind of Medicare chapter of the Obama campaign that is going to be coming soon."
A phone conversation with Paul Begala, a veteran Democratic strategist who is now raising funds and consulting for Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting Obama, confirmed that Levin's conjecture was correct.
Asked whether Romney will have to campaign on the Ryan budget reforms or whether he should stick to his current jobs and the economy script, Begala told HuffPost, "they will because we're going to require them to."
"I promise you the Ryan-Romney budget is going to be central to this discussion," Begala said. "This is not like some crackpot theory from some long dead Russian immigrant. It is now the official budget of the Republican party of the House of Representatives. This is not like just some kind of fringe deal."
Begala declined to comment on when Priorities USA plans to unleash their criticisms of the Ryan budget. They are most likely waiting to see if Romney picks Ryan as his running mate, in which case those attacks could be coming sooner than later.
Super PACs like Priorities USA are forbidden by law from coordinating their activities with the Obama campaign. So far this year, the group has worked to reinforce the Obama campaign's attacks on Romney's private equity career at Bain Capital.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to preview strategic planning for the rest of the campaign, but said as far as they are concerned, Romney already is running on the Ryan budget.
"Governor Romney has not only fully embraced the Ryan budget, but he has introduced a budget plan that is a carbon copy -- it makes seniors pay thousands of dollars more each year for their health care and severe cuts to programs essential to the middle class in order to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires," LaBolt said. "Mitt Romney is campaigning on the flawed assumption that we can just cut our way to prosperity."
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