Democratic Super PACs' Secret Weapon: Paul Ryan

Democratic Super PACs in congressional races are trying to tie candidates to Paul Ryan.

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In this April 1, 2008, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, talks to media about an alternative Republican budget plan, The Path to American Prosperity, that he is promoting in the House. Throughout his rapid political ascent, to become chief architect of love-it or hate-it Republican budget policy, many of Ryan's Democratic adversaries have coupled criticism of his ideology with praise for his cordiality, diligence and thoughtfulness.

Across the country, Democratic super PACs involved in congressional races are feeling smug. And they've got one person to thank: Paul Ryan.

Ever since the Wisconsin congressman was added to the Republican ticket, Democrats have cheered the opportunity to turn some of the focus onto Ryan's controversial budget plan. His plan includes transforming Medicare, cutting about a third of Medicaid, and decreasing taxes for rich Americans.

But a prominent Democratic consultant and opposition researcher tells Whispers that Super PACs aren't just excited.

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Super PACs involved in congressional races, the consultant said, are planning to spend "all the money they've got" tying their opponents to Ryan, and "can't believe how lucky" they are that Mitt Romney chose Ryan.

Lucky because, in 2010, "nothing" polled as well against Republican congressional candidates as showing they supported the Ryan budget plan, according to the consultant.

Lucky, too, because there is evidence to suggest many voters in 2010 didn't know that the Ryan plan actually belonged the Wisconsin Republican. "Now it's 'Oh, it's THIS guy who did it. And if it worked in 2010, now it's even more incendiary," the consultant said.

Case in point: When Missouri Rep. Todd Akin first took heat for his comments about "legitimate rape" over the weekend, one of the first images to spread on social media and on television showed Akin sitting next to Ryan.

"He's our Nancy Pelosi now," said the consultant of Ryan, comparing him to the House minority leader's unpopularity in 2010. "He'll be Al Capone before we are all done."

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.