WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is chairman of the House Budget Committee, an author and now the GOP's candidate for vice president. He's juggling these duties while being the father of three young children -- but you wouldn't know that from the questions members of the media ask him.

Ryan, it seems, can have it all. And nobody seems to think that's worth having a long, drawn-out, national conversation about.

"It is a non-issue," said Jennifer Lawless, an American University professor who is the director of its Women and Politics Institute. "It reminds me of the kind of coverage that John Edwards received in 2004 when he was named as John Kerry's running mate -- where you have a relatively young male candidate who is about to put his family through several months of incredibly arduous campaigning, and it's a non-issue."

In his first interview after being tapped as Mitt Romney's running mate, the only question Ryan received from CBS's Bob Schieffer about his family was, "Congressman, this is going to change your whole life. What did your family think about it?" There were no follow-up questions about whether he could be a good father while spending most of his time on the road, meeting a grueling campaign schedule.

Female candidates don't usually get the benefit of the doubt on this issue. They still shoulder more household and childcare duties than their husbands, or they are expected to. And when they decide to step away from some of these responsibilities, they face moralistic questions and raised eyebrows about whether they are a "good" wife and mother.

In the 2008 campaign, concerns about how Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential nominee, could take care of her five children -- including an infant with Down syndrome -- were a constant presence, from both voters and the media.

“You can juggle a BlackBerry and a breast pump in a lot of jobs, but not in the vice presidency,” Christina Henry de Tessan, a mother of two in Oregon who supported President Barack Obama, told The New York Times in 2008.

"A mother of a 4-month-old infant with Down syndrome taking up full-time campaigning? Not my value set," said another mother of four in Maine.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani addressed the issue when he introduced Palin at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, saying, "How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president! How dare they do that! When did they ever ask a man that question?"

In 2007, Lawless found that in families with two working adults -- generally in high-level careers -- women were 12 times more likely than men to be responsible for the majority of household tasks. When it came to childcare, women were 10 times more likely to be in charge.

"If the goal is ultimately to treat candidates fairly and to create a system such that gender parity could one day exist, then I think we should be asking the same questions," said Lawless. "The reality of the matter though is that women are still overwhelmingly responsible for household and child care responsibilities."

While running for governor of North Dakota in 2000, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp -- who is now making a bid for U.S. Senate -- was often asked how old her kids were. She would respond that they were the same age as her male opponent's children.

Women who don't have children aren't immune from these criticisms.

Last year, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) ran against a male Republican state senator who sent out a campaign email criticizing Cantwell's support for allowing young women to have access to emergency contraception.

The bottom of the email noted that Cantwell was "unmarried" and "has frequently voted to undermine the role of parents in child-rearing."

Retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said last month that she had once considered running for president, but her family responsibilities made it unrealistic.

"I would love to have had the right timing. But, timing is everything in life," she said during remarks at a women's conference hosted by National Journal.

Hutchison, who has served in the Senate for 18 years, said she adopted her two children 11 years ago, which put her "out of the capability." She said she's been going home every weekend to be with her kids, which has meant she hasn't been in Washington to make TV appearances on Sunday political shows and build her name identification "in the way that you would if you were running for president."

That's not to say that male candidates don't struggle with being away from their families.

In a 2007 debate, then-Sen. Obama said his New Year's resolution was to be "a better father, better husband," admitting that the presidential campaign had been "an enormous strain on the family." He recounted how he had gone to buy a Christmas tree with his daughters, Sasha and Malia, the day before, but they had just two hours together before he had to fly back to Washington, D.C. for a vote.

When asked how Ryan feels about the prospect of spending so much time away from his family, spokesman Brendan Buck said he could not speak for the candidate.

Lawless argued that as more and more women with young children run for office -- from Palin to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) -- voters' expectations for women are beginning to shift. And female candidates, likewise, are finding role models to whom they can turn when asked how they can juggle the jobs of being a mother and a politician.

"I think '08 fundamentally changed the terrain," Lawless said. "The Republican Party is the party that would be the most inclined to embrace traditional roles and responsibilities. When they had, as their vice presidential nominee, a female candidate with very young children, they were saying by default that this was okay. So I think it becomes difficult for there to be backlash against that statement now, given who was on their ticket in 2008."

Alexander Becker, Cole Stangler and Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.

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  • Marco Rubio

    "Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot. Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation's challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down. "The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream. I'm excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning

  • Rob Portman

    <blockquote> "Mitt Romney has made a great choice in Paul Ryan. He is an accomplished public servant and a leading voice on the most pressing issues facing our country. Paul is one of my best friends in Congress and someone I have worked closely with as a former colleague on the House Ways & Means Committee. "Jane and I wish Paul and Janna and their kids the very best. As the Chairman of the Romney campaign in Ohio, I look forward to working with Paul to ensure that the Romney-Ryan ticket carries Ohio and is victorious in November. Most importantly, as a member of the Senate, I look forward to working closely with a Romney-Ryan Administration to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-growth policies to create jobs."</blockquote>

  • Obama for American Campaign Manager Jim Messina

    <blockquote>"In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes."</blockquote>

  • Michelle Malkin

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  • Rachel Maddow MSNBC

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  • Michael Steele

  • Larry Sabato

  • davidfrum

  • Charles M. Blow

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  • Progressive Change Campaign Committee

    The Progressive Change Campaign Committee issued the following statement: <blockquote>"Paul Ryan is a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney. It gives President Obama and Democrats a chance to draw a clear contrast in 2012 by promising not to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security benefits. If Democrats win in a landslide, this was the game changer." -- Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a 1 million member grassroots organization</blockquote>

  • Laura Ingraham

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    The national pro-life organization released the following statement: <blockquote>"By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. "A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no 'truce' when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney's campaign. "Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections," continued Dannenfelser. "The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base - we are thrilled with this pick."</blockquote>

  • GOProud

    <blockquote>"The selection of Paul Ryan is a bold and inspired pick," said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud. "Paul Ryan has been the architect of policies that would benefit all Americans, especially gay Americans." "Paul Ryan is one of the few political leaders anywhere in the country willing to tell the American people the truth about the unprecedented budget crisis we are facing, and - more importantly - willing to put forward bold plans to put this country back on the road to fiscal solvency," continued LaSalvia.</blockquote>

  • Log Cabin Republicans

    <blockquote>"Congressman Paul Ryan is a strong choice for vice president, and his addition to the GOP ticket will help Republican candidates up and down the ballot," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. "As chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the Republican "path to prosperity" that provided the blueprint for serious spending cuts in this Congress, nobody is more qualified to articulate a conservative economic vision to restore the American economy and stimulate job creation. </blockquote>

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

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  • Center For American Progress President Neera Tanden

    <blockquote>"Just like Sen. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin and George H.W. Bush's selection of Dan Quayle, Mitt Romney has been cowed by the right wing into choosing an extreme vice presidential nominee who will alienate moderate voters. It's now clearer than ever that as president, Mitt Romney would end Medicare as we know it, and will raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000in order to slash taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While there is a lot that can be said about Paul Ryan's extreme views, more important is what this choice says about Mitt Romney: that he is unwilling or unable to stand up to the far-right of his party and select a vice-presidential candidate that is both able to be president on day one and capable of governing by reaching across the aisle."</blockquote>

  • SEIU President Mary Kay Henry

    <blockquote>"If there were ever any doubt that Mitt Romney is not on the side of working people, today's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate makes it crystal clear. With this choice, Romney has shown the American people that he believes Rep. Ryan's extremist, irresponsible and anti-worker agenda is what's right for our country. "Rep. Ryan has made a name for himself by fighting in the halls of Congress for tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations while proposing to gut vital services like Medicare and education, and eliminating any sense of retirement security for working families. His no-holds barred record of attacking seniors, children, and working men and women is frightening for the 99 percent of Americans who are not rich -- but for Mitt Romney it was a calling card to choose him as a running mate."

  • NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan

    <blockquote>"Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Ryan as his running mate reminds us of why elections matter when it comes to our ability to make personal and private medical decisions," Keenan continued. "The outcome of the 2012 presidential election very well could determine whether abortion remains legal and accessible for the next generation of American women. Romney has pledged that taking away women's rights will be a priority for him and his choice of Ryan amplifies that promise to the extreme anti-choice backers of this ticket. My organization's priority is to make sure President Obama remains in the White House."</blockquote>

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    <blockquote>"Americans deserve new ideas for how we can reduce the debt and protect our seniors and the middle class. Just one year ago, Western New York voters rejected the Ryan-Collins policies that would end Medicare as we know it and hurt middle class families while giving more tax cuts to the rich. Our country needs to move forward, not re-hash failed ideas. Given Chris Collins' ongoing support for tax cuts for the rich that add nearly $1 trillion to the deficit and his willingness to send his business to China to line his pockets, it is clear my opponent is going to continue to pursue policies and priorities that have already been rejected."</blockquote>

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  • Rob Zerban

    <blockquote>"Now that Paul Ryan's personal ambition has clearly trumped his interest in the First District, I have no doubt he'll find himself out of a job come November. Once Wisconsinites and voters across our country learn the truth about Ryan's radical plot to end Medicare as we know it, de-fund women's health care, and preserve tax breaks for millionaires, they'll vote against him not just once, but twice. In the coming weeks, our campaign will work with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to continue getting the word out on Ryan's indefensible record, and building momentum to ensure victory on Election Day."</blockquote>

  • Scott Walker

    <blockquote>"Governor Mitt Romney made a bold and reform-minded selection in Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. This election has to be about who is going to look out for the next generation. America needs a comeback team to turn around the economy and to turn around the fiscal status of our country. Romney and Ryan have the ideas and the experience needed to take on these core issues. This is a great day for Wisconsin and an even greater day for America."</blockquote>