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.
(Page 2 of 2)
The fundamental difference between Paul Ryan and GOP governors (or former governors) Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Bob McDonnell of Virginia or senators such as Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is simple: Ryan has actually outlined a budget plan.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Romney, of course, has an economic plan of his own. He could have done more to distill it (59 points? really?) and picked any of those other candidates to try to gain an advantage that is electoral (Senator Portman in Ohio, Governor McDonnell in Virginia) or demographic (Senator Rubio with Hispanics, Senator Ayotte with women).
But Ryan’s plan is different from Romney’s. The House of Representatives has approved it, and it has been through the ringer of being scored by the Congressional Budget Office. It’s closer to law of the land than a campaign PowerPoint presentation.
Deride it, say it avoids tough challenges, or insist that it robs the poor to pay the rich, but at least it’s in legislative language. It could be picked up and turned into law within weeks.
Moreover, Ryan has been selling his plan and his principles for fixing America’s taxing and spending for two years. Whether or not Americans know Ryan specifically – and many people interviewed in Norfolk, Va., this weekend did not – they do know broadly about his plan. As Ryan put it in his first speech as vice presidential nominee on Saturday, “the commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this: We won't duck the tough issues – we will lead.”
By picking Ryan, Romney is working to shift the conversation from where it is (e.g., sideshows such as which campaign’s "super PAC" ads are more vile) toward one about debt, deficits, and America’s financial future. In short, he’s giving Ryan’s call for an "affirmative" campaign – a clear choice between visions – a shot.
That doesn't guarantee those are the topics that will consume the campaign between August and Election Day.
But given the response to the Ryan pick, both sides appear to be spoiling for a fight on debt, deficits, and fiscal management. If those related topics do become the focus, Election 2012 in fact could give Washington direction toward solving the nation’s immediate fiscal nightmare.
(In January, remember, $600 billion in higher taxes and lower government spending from expiring tax provisions and new spending cuts kick in, with the threat of throwing the economy back into recession.)
Winning this election with a real debate over these issues doesn’t give one party license to set about “conquering the other party” in the next presidency and session of Congress, as Ryan noted back in February.
But absent rigorous debate about looming fiscal issues, Ryan warned, “you win the wrong kind of victory.”