The Ryan Pick
August 13, 2012 4 Comments
RALEIGH— Paul Ryan is on the Republican ticket. The choice was made this past weekend and now America has a “choice,” if you are to believe Democrats. This election apparently is no longer about the current state of the economy. Or that 20% of the population is without a job or working at a fast food restaurant. This is the delight of the Democratic campaigns. “Now,” they say, “we have a lasting distraction from our failures.”
Plus, you’ll be reading a lot about how the Ryan budget does not poll well. I would speculate that is because there is no defense of the proposed budget in the polling question. And this brings up a key factor for the Romney-Ryan ticket. The double-edged sword.
First though, let’s get to the meat of this, at least from my perspective. Romney is not my kind of guy. He is about as exciting as a toothpick. Ryan is a very interesting guy. He is articulate. He seems to know his stuff. And he can defend his point of view very persuasively. So how is he going to impact the race? Well, that really depends…
Ryan should help shore up Romney’s base by pulling in conservatives wary of Romney. Ryan will not sway the extreme left. He will not “galvanize” them either. The people on the extreme left were going to vote for the Democrat no matter what. The people on the extreme right where on the wall. So in this regard he should help pack a few more people into the polls in November.
For the nation as a whole it should be good. Ryan should help direct the debate to important issues, allowing America to move past the mundanely stupid topics of a long hot summer:
“Show me your tax records.”
—”Show me your birth certificate.”
—”No, you gaffed bigger.”
“You’re out of touch.”
—”No, you’re out of touch.”
So hopefully on the important issues the campaigns will begin to spin.
Democrats appear to be gearing up for a “run on the VP.” Much like last cycle. Did anyone remember John McCain was actually the one running for President? I know he quit mid-way through the election, but seriously, Sarah Palin was not running for President. She was running for that all too important job Joe Biden now has. But the Democratic party, Mr. Obama in particular, campaigned against Sarah Palin pretty much from the moment she was picked to the moment the polls opened. McCain was in the background as everyone lampooned Mrs. Palin. She was an easy target and couldn’t defend herself aptly. Democrats appear to be wanting to campaign against Ryan, but that could be a massive mistake. This is where the aforementioned polling is a double edged sword.
Watching Ryan over these last few years, the man knows his stuff. He is articulate. He can defend himself. He is sharp and quick. He is decidedly not Sarah Palin. Running against Ryan isn’t going to be as easy as running against Palin. So while polling catch phrases and slogans can help a campaign weed through the proper verbiage in hopes of afflicting the most damage, it doesn’t quite work as well if the opponent has an ability to respond. And respond with equally potent verbiage.
However, there is a problem for Romney and Ryan. They need the entire campaign, staffers, clerks, everyone, to be unified in message and persuasiveness. This is something on which the campaign has not been too disciplined (see Andrea Saul). Secondly, they absolutely must define Ryan before the left does. This means they need to spend more on advertising. They need to define Ryan through saturation of message. This is not something the Romney campaign has done up to this point even for Romney. If they continue to lag in defining themselves the void will be filled with more negative. It will impact the independent vote. And the independent vote is the vote this race is about.
The Obama campaign is going to attempt to paint Romney-Ryan as an evil duo hell bent on destroying America, which is curious as this is how the far Right see Obama/Pelosi (why bother including Joe on anything of substance?). The message the Obama campaign hopes to portray is, Ryan is the devil. He hates poor people. He hates the middle class. He wants to kill women and children. He wants to destroy the wonderfully sufficient safety net. The Romney-Ryan campaign needs to flood the market with a positive message of Ryan before this caricature can set in. While the Obama campaign attempts to describe Ryan as a man who would change entitlements, the Romney campaign can flip this by portraying the Obama campaign as defenders of the status quo. If Ryan is successful in driving the conversation towards entitlement and tax reform, this is an inevitable response. At least it should be if the Romney campaign is smart. Obama will be saying “Vote for me and I will keep things as they currently are.” And Romney-Ryan, if competent, should be saying “We agree with Mr. Obama. A vote for him will sustain high unemployment, massive deficits, partisan gridlock, and dysfunctional government. A vote for us will do…” yadda, yadda, yadda.
In the end though, it will all hing on the Romney campaign’s ability to define Ryan to the general public before his opponents do.
So, do I like Ryan? So far I’ve liked what I’ve read. Would either he or Romney make me forget the admitted incompetence of the last 3 to 15 years? No. This country has been running on a Keynsian economic playbook since George H.W. Bush. Senior Bush never liked supply-side economics. He called it Voodoo economics. Truthfully, the “failed policies of the past” are the very policies being perpetually promoted by the Obama campaign. And I agree with that campaign, I do not want to see those policies continued. So, while I dislike Romney, I Blame Barack Obama for forcing the country to vote for him.