By Teresa Welsh |
We're now learning Mitt Romney's decision to name U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate was his and his alone … that his advisers preferred a safer choice—former Gov. Tim Pawlenty or Sen. Rob Portman.
But if the huge crowds that have swarmed the ticket since the announcement Saturday morning are any indication, Romney again has been right to trust his own instincts.
It had become apparent in recent weeks he wasn't going to defeat President Obama without bold action. His poll numbers had slipped, and he'd lost control in key battleground states. He had a choice—play it safe and keep it close, or go bold and try to turn the tables. He chose correctly.
The pick shows this campaign will be about big ideas, which is not what Democrats wanted. It will be a "choice" election—voters will be asked to choose between a government that makes decisions for them and one that places individual liberty at the center of our national conversation.
It will engender a conversation about Ryan's Medicare reform plan. Romney's advisers fear that conversation; they should look forward to it. Ryan's plan cuts Medicare spending by the exact same amount as Obamacare. It affects only those younger than 55; Obamacare affects even current retirees. And Ryan's plan allows patients, doctors, and private insurers to make care decisions; Obamacare places all this power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.
Yes, there will be "Mediscare" tactics—this is why some Democrats say Ryan is the VP pick they wanted most to run against. But Romney and Ryan can point out the last time this came around: Democrats' efforts to demonize Ryancare earned them Politifact's 2011 Lie of the Year award.
Ryan helps some with the electoral map. Wisconsin hasn't gone Republican since 1984, and Romney had begun to slip there as Republican Scott Walker's victory in the gubernatorial recall vote in June fades from memory. The Badger State is now back in play, as is perhaps neighboring Michigan, where Romney grew up.
Ryan also brings a fresh face and a fresh approach to presidential electoral politics. His name ID sits only in the mid-50s, so he will have the opportunity to define himself—and the Democrats the opportunity to define him as they will—to more than half the country in coming weeks. And what will those unfamiliar with Ryan see? A fit, friendly, and eloquent young man with an attractive family whose knowledge of policy and ability to articulate solutions is second to none. A man who has thought about the defining issue of his day—fiscal overreach—and developed solutions that have drawn bipartisan support. A tireless campaigner with a squeaky-clean image and the support of virtually his entire party. And a man with an obvious and powerful personal connection to the man at the top of the ticket.
And finally, a man willing to make tough choices and stand behind them. And, as the Walker election in his home state proved, Americans are ready for that.
About Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist and Political Analyst
Jamal Simmons Principal at The Raben Group
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College