Rep. Paul Ryan: Haven't given VP role 'serious thought'

April 10, 2012 at 8:42 AM ET

Would he or wouldn't he?

Conservative rising star Rep. Paul Ryan stopped just shy of saying he’d join Mitt Romney's ticket as VP, but the Wisconsin congressman offered full-throated support of the Republican frontrunner.

Ryan, who endorsed Romney, said he hasn't spoken with the candidate about the potential post. "I haven't given it much thought."

Yet, on Tuesday it appeared as he was all but auditioning for the position. 

“I’ve actually really grown to like him quite a bit,” Ryan told TODAY’s Ann Curry. “I believe he has the exact kind of leadership skills we need to get this country out of the debt crisis we’re in.”

Ryan’s backing could help Romney, who has struggled to gain support among some conservatives.

Ryan attributed Romney’s problems with conservatives to his role as former governor of Massachusetts — a blue state — and the compromises he had to make in working with Democrats in the state legislature. Paul defended Romney’s conservative bona fides.

“He’s going to be a great standard bearer for us in the fall,” Paul said.

Ryan, who chairs the House budget committee, also defended his budget Tuesday against criticism that the proposal balances the nation’s debt on the backs of the poor.

An analysis by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that “62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years …from programs that serve people of limited means.”

“Do you acknowledge poor people will suffer under this budget?” Curry asked Ryan.

“No,” Ryan responded, adding later, “We don’t agree that throwing more money at failed programs works.”

Ryan’s measure, which passed the GOP-controlled House earlier this year, proposes to trim more than $6 trillion in spending over the next decade by cutting and reforming entitlements such as welfare and food stamps. The measure also nixes corporate tax loopholes and cuts the corporate tax rate.

The measure is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

President Barack Obama recently blasted the proposal as a “Trojan horse” and “thinly veiled social Darwinism.”

Ryan called Obama’s comments “more petulant than presidential.”

More: Obama's rebuttal to Ryan (and Romney) 

First Read: Ryan endorses Romney 

A tribute to the 2012 Republican primary 

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TODAY.com political contributor Halimah Abdullah is the site’s woman in Washington.