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The Ryan Pick: What It Means & What It Doesn’t Mean

This past weekend, Mitt Romney tapped Paul Ryan to be his running mate. And while many will debate the politics of the pick, there’s no questioning Ryan’s policy expertise. As previously noted on this blog:

The GOP needs to get Paul Ryan in front of the camera talking about the deficit issue as much as they can. He knows it inside and out, can debate it with the other side coherently, and do it without appearing overly partisan.

Personally, the pick was a bit of a surprise. Given the importance of states like Ohio and Virginia, I was almost certain Romney would go with the so-called “safe pick” of either Rob Portman or Bob McDonnell. Even the readers here didn’t have Ryan pegged as a top three pick:

Either way, the Ryan pick presents a lot of exciting issues, but the character assassination and gross-exaggerations (just check out Obama’s twitter feed) have already begun to distort exactly what the Ryan pick means and doesn’t mean this election season.

So we thought we’d put our own spin on it and give you the facts as we see them.

VP Paul Ryan – What the Pick Means

Romney is serious about policy. Romney has always been a serious candidate, running a very effective primary campaign and ramping up efforts as the general election draws nearer. He is determined to beat Obama this November.

But picking Paul Ryan to be his VP demonstrates a similar dedication to the policy of the presidency. There’s probably a handful of intellectually smarter men in Congress, but not one can stand on the national stage and deliver that knowledge more succinctly and more eloquently than Paul Ryan.  Even the Plain Dealer acknowledged what Ryan brings to the ticket:

Into a presidential campaign that has been short of substance and long on personal attacks, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has injected an element around which worthwhile debate might begin to coalesce.

The Democrat lie machine is just getting warmed up. If you subscribe to the Ohio Democratic Party’s email list, not only do you have a high tolerance for stupidity, but you’ve probably already seen ODP Chairman Chris Redfern’s lame attempt at trying to tie Paul Ryan to Governor John Kasich.

The message says that Ryan worked for then-Congressman Kasich’s budget committee, when in reality, Ryan never worked for Kasich. Not that honing your skills behind the only man in modern history to balance the federal budget is a bad thing to be tied to…

Not to mention Kasich’s popularity with Ohioans these days. Apparently our favorite pirate didn’t get that memo.

Either way, Democrats are going to pull out all the stops to lie about Ryan. More on that later.

Republicans will come out to vote in 2012. If you have more than a few conservative friends, you probably know one that wasn’t too psyched to vote for Romney in November. A hard-fought primary–with accusations flying right and left–will cause a jaded view of just about every eventual nominee.

Enter conservative guru Paul Ryan.

Ryan’s sense of fiscal policy, not to mention his strong support of other tenets of the GOP platform, make him extremely attractive to primary voters who may not have fully embraced Romney. He brings balance to the ticket, and is one man a lot of folks wouldn’t mind being one heartbeat away from the presidency. I mean, it beats having this guy…

VP Paul Ryan – What the Pick Doesn’t Mean

Romney is planning on losing Ohio and Florida. There’s been some murmuring that, by not selecting Rubio or Portman, Romney’s election strategy had him planning on losing both Ohio and Florida. First off, that’s incredibly dumb–together the two states account for one-sixth the necessary electoral votes to win election. If Obama takes both Ohio and Florida, just with safe Democrat states alone he’s 80% of the way to reelection.

Bottomline: Romney can’t win the presidency and lose Ohio and Florida.

So why the Ryan pick? Because Romney knows that Portman and Rubio are the kind of guys that will go to bat for him, even if they’re not his VP. Rubio has a lot of years left in his political career, and the arrow is only pointing up. But it’s difficult to advance your policy message if the guy in the oval office has a fundamental problem with, well, America. It’s in Rubio’s best interest to have Romney in the oval office.

As for Portman, the man’s a soldier for the cause (apologies to Kellen Winslow, Jr.). He’s popular among Ohioans (+7% overall, +22% among Independent voters) and he has a record of taking on the liberal left and winning… everywhere he goes.  He was on the short list, no doubt, but in the end, Romney passed over him not because Portman wouldn’t have been an asset as VP, but because he would remain so even if he wasn’t on the ticket:

“He couldn’t have been more gracious,” Portman said of [Romney’s call]. “And I told him I’m really excited about the prospect of working with him as president and implementing the changes that are definitely needed in this county on economic and fiscal issues.” 

We were a little disappointed not to see a fellow Ohioan on the ticket, but in the end, Romney’s decision will help deliver Ohio come November.  With Portman free to concentrate his attention, and popularity, wholly to the Ohio effort, he’ll have a much greater effect in this crucial swing state.

Add all of this to the fact that the Ryan pick now has Romney in the lead in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida and the VP choice looks like it had the desired effect.

Ryan’s lack of name ID makes him an unpopular choice. The general thought by most on the left is that since Paul Ryan isn’t a household name outside of political circles, he’ll be unpopular among the voting public.  That, and Democrats are quick to label him a far-right conservative. Of course, the left tends to make a habit of lying to themselves, so don’t mind their dismissal of this little tidbit:

Ryan’s popularity in Ohio tops both President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s.  Not exactly a bad thing to have in a swing state.  Not that the Dispatch’s Joe Hallett would let that get in the way of a “good” story:

Rest assured now that Obama will tie Romney to the budget Ryan proposed as House Budget Committee chairman, including unpopular cuts to Medicare, and try to demagogue his way to a second term.

Memo to Journal editors and Kristol: Romney doesn’t need a far-right running mate to consolidate the base. The base is consolidated. It is fired up. Obama does that for Romney.

First, it’s actually Obama who cut Medicare.  It sure would be nice for the media to get that one right, seeing as how Ryan’s plan would actually save Medicare (that video was posted over a year ago, mind you, way before the debate and finger pointing took off).  And Ryan’s approval ratings in Ohio are evidence that people get it.

Obama will be forced to talk policy.  As stated above, Democrats are going to pull out all the stops to make sure Obama sees another four years in the oval office.  And after four years of disaster upon disaster upon disaster with Obama at the helm, there’s only one way the president gets reelected:

Bash the other guy and lie like hell.

The Ryan pick will not force Obama and Biden to debate the issues because they can’t; they’ll lose every day and twice on Sundays.  While Obama’s been president, the nation has never seen unemployment below 8%.  The national debt has increased by 50%, and the American people have been sold a bill of goods on overreaching healthcare policy and wasted stimulus dollars.

Based solely on record alone, the Obama Presidency will go down in history as one of the worst in modern times.  That’s not something Obama can afford to campaign on.

To get reelected, that only leaves negative campaigning.  The only time Obama actually has to deliver on substantive messaging will be at the debates this fall.  Granted, Joe Biden has to be soiling himself at the prospect of going up against not only a far more charismatic man in Paul Ryan, but also an elected official who can run laps around Biden’s policy knowledge and verbally challenged tendencies.

So while voters will want to see the candidates engage on the issues, and while the Ryan pick shows Romney’s dedication to the policy side of things, the pick doesn’t automatically ensure that Obama will start talking substance.

With his record, he can’t afford to.

Cross-posted at GOHP Blog.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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