Mitt Romney took some flak for announcing to thousands of cheering supporters Saturday that Paul Ryan is "the next president of the United States."
For now, Ryan is merely slated to be the Republican nominee for vice president.
But this is one of those instances where the gaffe is more revealing than the prepared remarks.
With the selection of the House Budget Committee chairman as his ticket mate, Romney has acknowledged that he's not really hosting this year's Grand Old Party.
The presumptive presidential nominee has bowed -- not a tip of the head here, a full bow -- to the party's conservative establishment and to grassroots right-wingers who demand not electability but absolute purity.
That's a more significant shift than it might seem. The Romney campaign plan was supposed to follow classic GOP lines: run to the right in the primaries and then, with the nomination secured, pivot at least a little bit toward the center. Even as he battled Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in the winter and spring, Romney tried to maintain a measure of ideological maneuverability
Romney has deferred, fully, to the right.
Until just a few days ago, Ryan was considered an unlikely prospect for the number-two spot on the Republican ticket: too rigid in his budgetary obsessions, too wacky in his enthusiasm for Ayn Rand's novels and Austrian economics, too enthusiastic about taking apart Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.