(CBS News) With the Saturday announcement that Mitt Romney is tapping Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, the candidate is embracing a distinctly conservative, if controversial, lawmaker who he hopes will help prove to Republicans he's ready to embrace a "loud and proud" conservatism, according to CBS News political director John Dickerson.
"The reason conservatives have been pushing Ryan is, again, this argument that Mitt Romney needs to sort of be loud and proud of his conservative ideas," Dickerson said Saturday on "CBS This Morning." "And Paul Ryan is just emblematic of that. He is walking proof that Mitt Romney believes in a certain set of ideas and that he's not just trying to coast on the idea that he's not Barack Obama."
Romney's announcement, made in a joint appearance with Ryan Saturday morning out of Wisconsin, suggests that the candidate wants to maximize his opportunities to get voters revved up about his choice.
"The reason for doing it now, earlier than the convention, is to try to stretch out that period, to own the conversation, to really define the candidacy," Dickerson said. "This is a crucial period, because the polls show consistently, if you take an average of them, then Mitt Romney has been slipping. So this is a chance for Romney to improve his relationship with voters and show them a whole new face for several weeks."
Choosing Ryan as his running mate is sure to give Democrats plenty of fodder for attacks: Ryan's 2010 budget proposal included a number controversial measures, including an overhaul of the nation's Medicare system, and gave even some Republicans pause. But according to Dickerson, the choice could also prove effective in energizing the conservative base.
"In 2010 house Republicans were nervous about it, they sort of downplayed it," said Dickerson. "MR has now embraced that. He has embraced the author of that vision and that game plan, and so this will get Republicans enthusiastic, but it'll also speak to independent voters and say, this man has a plan. That Mitt Romney has a plan and here is his sort of co-partner in that plan."