Shift in direction: Romney selects Ryan as VP
DAYTONA BEACH SHORES -- Today Mitt Romney nominated Paul Ryan, seven-term Congressman from Wisconsin and Chairman of the House Banking and Finance Committee as his vice-presidential running mate. The decision has its pluses and its minuses.
Ryan was on the short list so the move was not unexpected but the timing was, as much of the media had anticipated that the announcement would come after Romney’s upcoming campaign bus tour. Instead it preceded the tour.
This may suggest that Romney was concerned that he had been unable to move the media focus away from pro-Obama attack ads which claimed – falsely or without any evidence in support – that Romney bears responsibility for the death of the wife of a steelworker whose firm was acquired by Bain Capital and that he had paid no income taxes in years.
The fact that these ads were at best unsupported and at worst deliberate lies did not prevent Romney from slipping in the polls after their release. Whatever the American voters may say, they enjoy that sort of thing.
Anticipating a continued drumbeat of such attacks from Obama as a proven method of dominating the debate and keeping attention from Obama’s dreadful record, Romney, some believe, chose Ryan in part as a tactical move to shift the focus of the national discussion.
If so it will certainly work, at least for a time. The Democrats are already dusting off false claims that the budget plans which Ryan authored and which Romney has embraced will push granny off a cliff by destroying Medicare and Social Security as we know it.
The fact is that no one over age 55 would be affected by the changes Ryan proposes and that the modifications he put forward to Medicare and Social Security would require the rich to pay more and would enable both programs to survive for years past the bankruptcies which the Congressional Budget Service insists are inevitable if nothing is done.
And nothing is what the Dems have proposed so far.
But once you get past the Democratic crap storm you also realize that Ryan is the most fiscally expert Member of Congress in either party, very knowledgeable regarding the deficit and the national debt and convinced (correctly) that the latter two issues will collapse our economy if not dealt with rationally. Moreover, unlike many members of both parties in both houses, Ryan has a plan to address both – a plan that will work.
Here again the Democrats, who have not proposed a budget in the past three years, have nothing.
So, if Romney and Ryan can use the nomination to realign the debate onto economic matters, even if it begins with the knee-jerk Dem attack ads, the nomination will work to Romney’s advantage. Romney’s decision emphasizes his determination to address the nation’s economic problems effectively once in office. Note his address introducing Ryan as the nominee in which Romney stressed the points of his economic plan:
* Full development of the nation’s oil and gas energy resources to make the United States not only self-sufficient in energy but to end our dependence on foreign oil imports and make America an oil and gas exporter again;
* Repeal and replacement of Obamacare;
* Cut the deficit and the debt and balance the budget;
* Creation of 12 million new jobs in four years and a strengthened middle class;
* Strengthen small business;
* Return work to welfare.
As he redoubles his emphasis on these goals, more and more of the discussion will focus on Obama’s unmitigated string of economic failures and the inescapable fact that his policies have made the bad situation he inherited much, much worse while offering no believable way to make things better.
Tactical or strategic, that can only work to Romney’s benefit.
On the negative side, Ryan’s nomination is unlikely to deliver any of the needed swing states as would Rubio with Florida or Portman with Ohio. Romney and his advisers appear to have calculated that the risk in the swing states can be overcome if the debate can be turned to the economy – the area in which Obama is most vulnerable and which most needs to be remedied.
Lack of foreign affairs experience is an area where the Dems pounced immediately and with some success. That said, Obama was nothing if not ignorant of foreign affairs when he came to office. Compounding that with arrogance, narcissism and a socialist worldview he has produced a dismal overseas record, save for the wins accorded him by our intelligence community. I do not believe that either Romney or Ryan suffer from those or others of Obama’s many character flaws.
The timing of the conventions does leave Obama with one unavoidable advantage. He has the opportunity to react to Romney’s VP choice.
Here, once again, I suspect that he will strengthen his ticket, especially among women, by dumping the gaffe-prone Biden and offering the vice-presidential slot to Hillary Clinton. In this way he would rally a substantial part of his voting base while underlining and contrasting his team’s foreign policy strengths with the weaker ones of Romney/Ryan.
I expect a very close race no matter who the vice-presidential nominees are.
At best, Obama will be very hard to beat. But if he wins, America loses and loses badly.