The Wall Street Journal highlights the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) to give tonight's Republican response to the State of the Union address. As the Journal notes, Ryan has gone toe-to-toe with President Obama before, faring quite well in the process. He has provided exceptional critiques of Obamacare, both as a budget buster (when speaking directly to the president at the "health-care summit"), and as a threat to America's continued existence as a land of liberty and opportunity (when speaking on the House floor shortly before the Obamacare vote).  Articulate, knowledgeable, and likable, he is exactly the sort of person you can bet President Obama doesn't want to see standing across from him at a podium in 2012

The Hill reports on tonight's response, writing:

One pollster said Tuesday’s speech, which Ryan will give from the Budget Committee room, could vault the Wisconsin lawmaker into contention for the 2012 presidential race, much the way Obama’s 2004 convention speech sent his career into overdrive.  “The party needs someone from outside the current top tier of contenders to step up, and Ryan’s speech gives him the platform to start generating buzz along those lines,” said Tom Jensen, a pollster at the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm. “If he knocks it out of the park, some within the party faithful may want him to explore a run,” said strategist Ron Bonjean, a former adviser to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). The Hill also quotes Republican pollster Jon McHenry:  “There is always a risk of a high-profile speech going poorly. But you never get a shot at attaining the highest positions without taking those risks. There are probably 20 or more potential presidential candidates who wish they had this opportunity, risks and all,” McHenry said.

McHenry also argues that Ryan as chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, which will take the lead in the House's upcoming budget battles with President Obama and the Democratic Senate, could provide (in the Hill's words) "more of a platform than being a junior senator" (like, say, Obama had in the 2008 election).