While presidential candidates take center stage in an election year, the role of their running mates can sometimes be either overlooked or overstated.
Local residents say sometimes a running mate can help or hurt a campaign, oftentimes the selection may not even matter.
Though expected GOP nominee Mitt Romney recently added Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to his ticket, the role that Ryan will play in the upcoming election is yet to be seen, according to Washington County Republican Party Executive Committee vice chairman Jon Grimm.
The Associated Press
Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. greets supporters at Walsh University in North Canton Thursday.
"It's too early to tell. Initially there's always a bump (in the polls) when a running mate is chosen, but Congressman Ryan is an intelligent man. I don't think he's gonna hurt Romney's campaign at all," Grimm said.
At the same time, there are certain qualities that presidential candidates will generally look for running mates to have, of which Grimm said he believes Ryan exhibits.
"I think there's probably two things you look at-you look at experiences and talents that complement your own as well as somebody who is ideologically compatible to carry on your policies in case you can't complete your term," Grimm said.
Chair of the Washington County Democratic Party Molly Varner also said that running mates' talents must complement their presidential candidates, but additionally warned that they can have an unintended harmful effect on the overall campaign.
"I think that they make a huge difference when they're not a distraction," she said. "A presidential candidate wants to focus on the message that brought them up to that point ... If (running mates) become a huge distraction then they're not a good running mate."
Varner mentioned former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's inexperience with the media in the last election as well as ex-vice president Dan Quayle's awkward public persona when talking about less-than-desired qualities in vice presidential candidates.
"When someone's uncomfortable in the public eye, the audience can sense that, and then they could become uncomfortable," Varner said of Quayle.
As of yet, the public still seems to be learning about what kind of candidate Ryan will be.
According to Pennsboro, W.Va., resident and retiree Richard Barnard, 78, Ryan seems to be a very solid running mate for Romney.
"He's a great choice. He brings legislative experience and a very excellent background in terms of budgetary issues," Barnard said. "He's bright, outgoing, charismatic and very knowledgeable about the internal workings of the federal government. He brings youth and excitement, and he's very acceptable to the conservative base of the party."
While Marietta business owner Asunta Damron said Ryan does have solid credentials, partly as a result of being the chairman of the House Budget Committee, she also said the impact he will have on voting behavior still remains to be seen.
"I'm not really sure, to be quite honest. If somebody was on the line, (Ryan) could be the deciding factor. I think it's always been hard to tell the effect of a running mate on a campaign," Damron said.
Local nurse and Washington County resident Bonnie Roe also said that oftentimes people already decide who they are voting for, regardless of running mate choice.
"People tend to have pre-formed opinions on candidates based on their ideologies," Roe said.
Still, Varner says the negative effects of bad press on presidential campaigns cannot be overstated, especially with the media coverage that a newly christened running mate can garner
"I think a running mate is more likely to hurt than to help. I think it's beyond their power to change (the campaign) for the better, but it's within their power to screw up so badly that they irreparably harm the campaign," Varner said. "Everybody remembers the bad things because everybody remembers bad news. It's the nature of the beast."