Considering the Ryan nomination
The selection of Ryan has energised an otherwise dull campaign. The degree to which this is maintained will be fascinating to see
After several months of wild speculation surrounding the Republican Vice Presidential pick, which has included everyone from Chris Christie to Condi Rice, Mitt Romney has named Representative Paul Ryan. In doing so, Governor Romney has ensured that this will be far from a tame, event-free general election.
Indeed, the decision appears to have finally ignited interest in the race, passion in Republican supporters and has the potential to spark similar sentiment in the Democratic ranks.
As the author of the much-vaunted Ryan budget proposals, the Republican vice presidential candidate brings a great deal to the ticket; assets and liabilities that will be utilised and exploited by both friend and foe alike in the coming months. As I discussed on Sky News this weekend, Ryan’s presence on the ticket ensures that the American electorate will be presented with a clearly defined choice this November.
What then, are the advantages that Representative Ryan brings?
First of all, He is not Sarah Palin. The last minute, poorly vetted fiasco of 2008 has not been repeated, ensuring that Romney has secured the talents of a smart and able young running mate, whose intelligence and ability to answer questions from Katie Couric is not in question.
Then there’s Ryan’s standing with the Tea Party movement which should placate those members of the movement that feel they have been sidelined thus far in the presidential process. Clearly Mitt Romney was not the Tea Party’s candidate of choice, but by reaching out and embracing Congressman Ryan, Romney should have done enough to ensure that they turn out and vote Republican in November.
What is more, Ryan’s presence appears to have already energised what was a rather tame Republican ticket. His unveiling ahead of the convention in Florida ensures that delegates will head to Tampa excited by the ticket, rather than vexing over any shortcomings in Romney’s resume and tax records.
Ryan’s age, vitality and recognised intelligence also stand in sharp contrast to the current Vice President, Joe Biden, more renowned for gaffes than for policies.
In endorsing Ryan, Romney is by extension endorsing the Ryan Budgetary proposals, since this is Ryan’s defining policy. Without his budgetary proposals, Ryan would be just another member of the lower chamber of Congress and an unimaginable candidate for the presidency.
His budgetary proposals have elevated him to a position of leadership within the House of Representatives and the Republican Party. By naming Ryan, Romney is allying himself to his partner’s budgetary and spending proposals, which will endear him to the right, but which, as we shall see shortly, ensure a barrage of criticism from the left.
Finally, by selecting Ryan, Romney has guaranteed that the economy and welfare reform will be central to the campaign. This will make life uncomfortable for President Obama who may be pushed into a foreign policy focused campaign as a result. To do otherwise will risk drawing attention to his deficiencies in the vital areas of welfare and the state of the economy.
The alternative will be to initiate a totally negative campaign focused on the Romney/Ryan plan, the like of which Democrats attacked Romney over during the initial primary season.
That said, whilst the nomination of Congressman Ryan brings with it considerable benefits to the Romney camp, there are also serious impediments to consider:
Romney introduced Ryan as “an intellectual” who had been in Congress for 14 years. These are not usually terms of endearment for Republicans and it is easy to imagine these very attributes being portrayed as liabilities in opponents. Indeed, to many in the Republican movement, they are far from ideal and it will be interesting to see how these elements are addressed during the campaign.
14 years is a long time to be in the lower house and there will certainly be uncomfortable voting records for the Congressman to address (including his votes in favour of the bailouts of GM and Wall Street), which Democrats will be eager to exploit in revenge for the savaging that Senator Kerry received in 2004.
Romney’s embrace of Ryan also enables the White House to link Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital with the cuts espoused in the Ryan Budget plan. The combination will enable the Obama team to portray the Republicans as Robber Barons; vindictive slashers of public services, out to deny seniors their rightful retirement protections and healthcare provisions.
The approach that the White House is guaranteed to take on this issue will ensure that Florida, with its elderly population, will be an even more vital state than usual and will undoubtedly be the venue of intense and at times vitriolic advertising aimed at scaring the living daylights out of American seniors.
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