Paul Ryan: bold, risky pick for Romney VP (+video)
Conservatives applaud Rep. Paul Ryan as the intellectual leader of the Republican Party. Liberals see Ryan as an ideologue who would destroy the nation’s social safety net.
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In his remarks, Ryan promised to help Romney “restore the dreams and greatness” of the country.Skip to next paragraph
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“Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at a crucial time in its history,” Ryan said. “Following four years of failed leadership, the hopes of our country, which have inspired the world, are growing dim; and they need someone to revive them. Governor Romney is the man for this moment.”
The Wisconsin congressman also highlighted his Washington-centered life in politics as adding to Romney’s background in business and the Olympics, and as a governor of Massachusetts.
“I believe my record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful complement to Governor Romney’s executive and private sector success outside Washington,” Ryan said. “I have worked closely with Republicans as well as Democrats to advance an agenda of economic growth, fiscal discipline, and job creation.”
Democrats see the selection of Ryan as a gift. He immediately shifts the focus of the campaign away from the No. 1 issue, the immediate need to boost employment and economic growth, and onto risky territory for Republicans: the future of the entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – that threaten eventually to bankrupt the country as the massive Baby Boom generation begins to retire.
The race is now on to define Ryan. Team Romney’s success in that challenge could go a long way toward determining the outcome in November.
Within moments of Ryan’s appearance on stage in Norfolk, the Obama campaign released a statement with its first cut on Ryan and defining his budget plan as “radical.”
“In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager.
“The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid,” he continued. “His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors.”
Messina also tied Ryan to the economic policies of former President George W. Bush and, by implication, the economic crisis that Obama inherited when he took office and which many voters still blame on Bush.
Ryan’s selection represents a victory for movement conservatives, who had raised the heat on Romney in the last week to go bold and select the Wisconsin Republican, who was first elected to Congress in 1998 while still in his 20s. Now in his early 40s, Ryan is still a young man, with a young family, but Republicans see his maturity and resume as overcoming age as a potential negative.