Well, Paul Ryan is out of the presidential race without having entered it. For those of us who value limited government and want to see fiscal discipline in Washington, and who desperately want a candidate who can articulate the need for and details of reforms, it is a disappointment that Rep. Ryan will not enter the race.
It does occur to me that of the candidates who are in the race, the one whose record and platform both match most closely with Ryan’s is former Sen. Rick Santorum. Far be it from me to issue any endorsement, especially considering that candidate selection involves political considerations in addition to mere analysis of records and platforms, but my prediction — as an analyst — is that Santorum will at least attempt to make a big move to attract activists who had been waiting on the sidelines to see what Ryan would do. Santorum remains a long shot, but he’s steadily creeping up in terms of public consciousness and support.
Of course, both Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann also would claim the mantle of Ryan-esque conservative reformers (although, frankly, Bachmann doesn’t fit because Ryan is an institutionalist and legislator whereas she is consciously an outsider and back-bencher), and the immediate benefit may flow to Perry as the most Ryan-like front-runner (the bandwagon effect is alive and well). But in terms of persona, geography, personal backgrounds, style, and mastery of the substance of national issues, Santorum and Ryan are indeed a close fit.
It will be interesting to see if any other boomlet starts to try to recruit yet another candidate into the race (other than Sarah Palin, who has always been a possibility) — or, if, finally, the field (other than Palin) starts to settle down and the attention at last turns to those actually in the race rather than to those on the outside that some people wish would get in.