Two Takes on Paul Ryan: Republican and Democrat Each Are Thrilled
On Monday night, the NewsHour will be exploring in depth Mitt Romney's decision to put Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on the ticket.
To begin our coverage, we solicited two takes on Ryan's selection.
The different perspectives come from Rick Davis, who served as campaign manager for both of Sen. John McCain's presidential bids, and Mo Elleithee, a Democratic strategist who worked for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential effort. The pair recently appeared on the NewsHour to discuss campaign spending.
By picking Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney demonstrates his resolve to pull government spending into line and the courage to take on entitlements at a time our deficits are putting enormous weight on our country's recovery.
Well reported by the news media at the time, this team clearly bonded during the Republican primary. Since then Governor Romney has been looking for a partner on the ticket who would balance the dual needs of having a strong candidate to help the ticket win in November and a experienced lawmaker to help tackle some of the most important fiscal issues of our time as vice president. Ryan fits both these requirements.
Picking running mates has changed over time. It used to be conventional wisdom that you looked at candidates who could "bring you their home state's electoral votes." Although those days are long past, the selection of Ryan has to put Wisconsin at the top of the list of states that could go from President Obama to Romney in this election.
Ryan is wildly popular in his home state, and Wisconsin has been looking more Republican in the last few election cycles. Having Ryan on the ticket could tip it finally to Romney.
This selection will also energize the core conservative base in the Republican party. This will certainly electrify the Republican National Convention scheduled to begin on Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla.
The party's enthusiasm for this young, raising star will also flood volunteers into the campaign organizations around the country, adding much needed "boots on the ground" for the Romney get-out-the-vote operations.
A bold, decisive and energizing selection. Ryan and Romney will begin today a campaign that will transform our party, energize our base and electrify this election.
And here's Elleithee:
Mitt Romney today picked the best possible candidate -- for Democrats!
Let's be clear. Rep. Paul Ryan embodies everything that people don't like about the modern Republican party. After voting to turn a record surplus into a massive deficit (including voting for two wars, the Bush tax cuts, and a Medicare prescription drug benefit -- all without paying for them), he has become the face of what's wrong with Washington.
The Ryan budget -- which advocates deep, across-the-board spending cuts while protecting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans -- could not be further from what the American people want. His plan would eliminate Medicare as we know it, threatens to kill thousands of jobs -- including many defense jobs -- and actually create a structural imbalance that could lead to even higher deficits down the road.
And rather than find any compromise or middle ground on his rigid ideological position, he helped lead the calls for obstructionism that brought us to the brink of defaulting on our obligations, and that directly led to America's very first credit downgrade.
If Romney was hoping to pick someone who is credible on fiscal issues, he could not have missed the mark by much more than he did with Ryan.
With this pick, Romney abandoned his strategy of making this election a referendum on President Obama, and overnight turned it into a referendum on Washington Republicans. And not only is that going to help Democrats in the presidential race, but up and down the ticket. Expect to see down-ballot Republicans get very squirmy as they try to figure out how to defend the Ryan-Romney plan to end Medicare as we know it.
There are some who argue this was a bold choice by Romney. I actually think it's the exact opposite.
A bold choice would have been picking someone who would reject the ideological rigidity of his own party and who had demonstrated an ability to find common ground -- someone who rejects the fiscally irresponsible approach that Washington Republicans keep trying to force on the American people, and who promotes a balanced approach to dealing with our fiscal and economic problems.
Instead, he picked one of the architects of that approach.