As a native of Wisconsin and someone who grew up as a middle class Catholic kid in the heart of Milwaukee, I was naturally thrilled to see Rep. Paul Ryan take the national stage as presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's choice for vice president. He is exactly the right person at the right time to serve this role and here are several reasons why:
The Ability to Emotionally Connect: Ryan connects with every day hardworking Americans because he is one of them. Like many young men right of out school, he took any job he could get to make ends meet. He worked summers as a salesman for Oscar Mayer. In his early years working on Capitol Hill, where it's hard to live on the salary of a junior staffer, Ryan supplemented his income by working as a waiter at Tortilla Coast, as a fitness trainer at Washington Sports Clubs, and at various other side jobs.
The Ability to Simplify Complicated Issues: As House Republican Budget chairman, Ryan has perfected the craft of explaining complicated budgetary policy in a way everyday Americans can understand. He can give the 30-second spiel, a short overview, or a 10-minute policy lecture depending on the audience. Ryan will take this skill and turn it into an asset for the Romney campaign on a myriad of policy issues.
Remains Focused Despite the Distractions: Ryan knows that the trappings of power can easily distract from doing the business of the American people. That's why he sleeps in his office and goes home to be with his wife and three children on the weekends. He has passed up opportunities to move up the leadership ladder both in the Republican leadership in Washington and Wisconsin Senate politics.
Not Shy and Committed to His Beliefs: As a devout Catholic, Ryan practices what he preaches. When Ryan was 16, his father died of a heart attack in bed and Ryan found him there. He had to grow up fast and commit to his values in order to succeed. That's why no one should underestimate Ryan's commitment to economic growth and fiscal responsibility. He has dedicated his political career towards good government policy no matter what the political risk might be down the road.
Plays It Straight, yet Loyal to the Team: Ryan isn't a political robot sputtering out Republican talking points. While serving as Budget Committee chairman, he took bold steps to create a Republican budget that some thought was politically risky. He also believes in the vision Romney has to lead this country forward while publicly disagreeing with past policies such as the Massachusetts healthcare law.