Paul Ryan’s Missing Road Maps

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By Albert R. Hunt

The selection of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate has excited Republican activists, though it's hard to find role models for the seven-term congressman.

In modern U.S. politics, the House is a graveyard for national politics.

The last U.S. representative to go directly from the House to the vice presidency was John Nance Garner, who was vice president in Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term, starting in 1933. Since then, only two sitting House members have been vice presidential candidates.

The first was William Miller. The obscure congressman from upstate New York was picked by Barry Goldwater in 1964 because he thought Miller got under President Lyndon Johnson's skin. Goldwater-Miller lost in one of three landslides since World War II.

In 1984, the Democratic presidential nominee, Walter F. Mondale, selected New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, putting a woman on a national ticket for the first time. They lost in one of the other landslides.

Romney's selection of Ryan is distinctive in another way. The congressman's home state of Wisconsin has produced notable politicians, just not successful national ones. He will be the first to go on a major party national ticket.

Republican Robert La Follette ran for president as a third-party progressive candidate in 1924, winning 17 percent of the vote and capturing his home state. He finished third.

In 1980, the former Democratic governor of Wisconsin, Patrick Lucey, ran as a vice-presidential candidate with John Anderson, an independent. They finished a distant third.

There is more hope for Ryan as a graduate of Miami University of Ohio. Benjamin Harrison, class of 1852, was elected president in 1888. He was defeated for re-election four years later.

(Albert R. Hunt is Washington editor at Bloomberg News and a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)

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-0- Aug/12/2012 15:53 GMT