In joining Romney, will Paul Ryan get his 'clear choice' campaign? (+video)
Back in February, long before he got the vice presidential nod, Rep. Paul Ryan urged Mitt Romney to run an 'affirmative' campaign, laying out how he differs from Obama. Picking Ryan may signal Romney's intent to do just that.
In selecting Paul Ryan for the GOP ticket, Mitt Romney appears to agree with one of the Wisconsin congressman's long-standing beliefs: If you aim for sweeping changes, you must run a campaign that clearly states your case to the American people.Skip to next paragraph
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Back in February, for example, Representative Ryan recounted the story of listening to President George W. Bush, who had just been reelected, discuss plans for his second term. It had been a bitter campaign, one that Mr. Bush had won with a focus on national security issues.
Ryan recalled that he was shocked to hear Bush discuss privatizing Social Security and taking on tax reform. “That’s the first time I heard of that,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters at a February Monitor breakfast, a bewildered look across his face.
“And I was [saying], ‘Yeah!’ ” he said, pumping his fist with the spine-tingling excitement that only he can muster about tax reform. “But it went nowhere.”
The lesson, according to Ryan? A campaign must articulate to voters the big changes it envisions making. That, of course, can be a risky move, especially when big changes involve political TNT like Medicare. But the new vice presidential hopeful nonetheless says he believes it best to be a proponent of laying out the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“We owe the country a very clear choice. The gridlock is as bad as its ever been. We need the American people to break it,” Ryan said back in February. “And what we owe them is that if we don’t like the direction the president has gone, and we don’t, we owe them an alternative.”
Reports indicate that Ryan and Mr. Romney are two wonky, data-driven peas in a presidential campaign pod. Romney once referred to Ryan, who is the same age as Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, as his “sixth son.”
But long before Ryan joined the ticket, he and his fellow Cheese Head, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, offered this one significant challenge to Team Romney: Where’s your vision?
“We simply can’t try to win this thing by default, by running against the bad news or the things that have contributed to the president’s unpopularity,” Ryan said back in February. “We owe the country more than that. We owe them an alternative, and if we win an affirming election like that, we have the moral authority and obligation to act on it.”
Both Governor Walker and Ryan praised Romney for making preliminary steps toward a bold vision. But Walker's assessment, made in June at a Monitor breakfast with reporters, was that Romney still hadn’t broken through.
“I don’t know that voters are there yet with Governor Romney,” Walker said. “It doesn’t mean he hasn’t talked about it. It doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about it. But I think he’s got to have a simple message of not only why we need to replace the current occupant in the White House, but also why he would be better.”