TAMPA--Ann Romney talked about love. Chris Christie talked about truth. Now Paul Ryan will get his turn completing the script of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign by talking about "The Plan."
It's all part of the choreography of the Republican National Convention. And when Ryan steps before the delegates and a national television audience Wednesday to accept his party's vice-presiential nomination, he will be addressing the third goal that Mitt Romney's aides believe he must achieve in Tampa--showing Americans that he has a plan to improve the economy. This comes after Mrs. Romney tried to soften her husband's image and make him more likable. And it follows the effort by Christie, the governor of New Jersey, to show that Republicans led by Mitt Romney won't shrink from the tough decisions needed to right the nation, unlike President Barack Obama and the Democrats, whom Christie portrayed as timid and locked into a failed status quo.
"Sixty percent of Americans don't like the direction that the country is going," in large part because of concern about the economy, says a Romney adviser, who adds that Ryan's job will be to show that he and Romney have a blueprint "to do something about it."
Another Republican strategist with ties to the Romney campaign says Ryan will also try to reinforce the image promoted by Mrs. Romney of a "more appealing Mitt," portraying him as a mentor and a father figure.
The centerpiece of Ryan's speech is expected to be the budget plan that the Wisconsin Rep. developed as chairman of the House Budget Committee, one that calls for deep spending cuts and an overhaul of the Medicare program. President Obama and the Democrats have blasted this blueprint as draconian and say that by "changing Medicare as we know it," Ryan would jeopardize the welfare of many seniors in the future.
But Romney has embraced the plan, setting up a confrontation with Obama and the Democrats for the rest of the campaign.
Ryan, 42, is an articulate defender of his conservative economic ideas, and he was described Wednesday by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on ABC as "a serious policy thinker."
Half of the voters give Ryan a positive approval rating and half give him a negative rating, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Ryan is also "testing well" well in polls of seniors, who tend to like him, says a Romney adviser. This comes despite the fact that Democrats are targeting seniors with arguments that the Ryan health care plan would damage the Medicare program. Ryan points out that his plan doesn't change benefits for anyone over the age of 55.
Mitt Romney is scheduled to appear Thursday and accept the GOP presidential nomination.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," on usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews and on Facebook and Twitter.