On Saturday when introducing his new running mate, Mitt Romney initially referred to Paul D. Ryan as the “next president of the United States.”
Mr. Romney quickly apologized for the slip-up, saying that he hoped that Mr. Ryan would become the next vice president instead. (Apparently, the stress of a vice presidential rollout can take its toll even on relatively unflappable candidates like Mr. Romney; Barack Obama made a similar slip when introducing Joe Biden four years ago.)
Of course, it’s not literally impossible that Mr. Ryan could turn out to be the 45th American president precisely (Mr. Obama is the 44th). It just couldn’t be through a sequence of events that Mr. Romney would be rooting for. Either the Republican ticket would have to win this year’s election — but with Mr. Ryan, not Mr. Romney, at the top of the ticket. Or, the more likely case: Mr. Obama would need to win the election and serve out his remaining four years, and Mr. Ryan would have to run for and win the presidency in 2016.
What, exactly, are the odds of one of these scenarios transpiring?