Mitt Romney is scheduled to announce his vice-presidential candidate on Saturday in Norfolk, Va., with several signs pointing toward Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) emerging as the leading candidate, the New York Times reports.
“A confidant of Mr. Ryan’s confirmed early Saturday that aides believed Mr. Romney had settled on the Wisconsin congressman to join the Republican ticket, but all advisers had been sworn to secrecy. Three senior Republican officials said that they, too, believed that Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, had emerged as the top choice.”
Here is a compilation of the first wave of analysis and reaction.
“The pick will turn out to be brilliant, or political malpractice. Some Beltway Republicans are already fretting that this could be an intellectual version of Sarah Palin: It’s August, you’re behind, conservatives don’t like your candidacy, so you throw a long ball.”
Jonathan Bernstein emphasizes Ryan’s inexperience:
I don’t think it will doom the campaign or anything like that, but it is worth noting that this is a shockingly inexperienced ticket, especially when it comes to national security and foreign policy. Dan Drezner wrote about Ryan and foreign policy back in the spring, and it’s worth looking at, but there really isn’t much there, I don’t think. Governors almost always pick someone with serious foreign policy or national security credentials, and one would think that would be particularly true with the nation still at war.
Priorities USA’s Bill Burton:
If it’s really Ryan, Romney will have picked one of the only people who could have had an impact in the race. But, not the way he wants.
Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo:
At least in the short term, Ryan’s selection will transform the presidential campaign into a policy-heavy discussion about the two biggest and most popular entitlement programs in Florida and the nation, Medicare and Social Security, which Ryan once wanted to partly privatize.
It’s a wonky policy debate that has no easy answer, relies on projections and guesses and seems laden with political calculations no matter how objective the issue might appear.
The Atlantic’s Nancy Cook:
Though Ryan may initially seem like a person unlikely to play second fiddle given his own large aspirations, sources say that (Romney and Ryan) share a similar analytical mindset and a love of data, an ability to pivot on their messaging and framing of key issues, and the patience and persistence needed to take the long view in the pursuit of victory. In Ryan’s case, he’s spent years honing an ideology about the country’s fiscal trajectory that has become the House Repubicans’ dominant message, while Romney has shown similar steadfastness in the years he’s spent chasing the presidency.
Time’s Michael Crowley:
It’s true that Romney’s choice of Ryan may represent a bow to pressure from conservative party activists, donors and pundits, many of whom have never fully trusted Romney’s ideological bona fides. It might also tell us something about his campaign advisers’ theory of the race–namely, concern over Romney’s struggle to win over independent voters, a belief that a referendum on the state of economy won’t suffice, and a hope that Romney’s best chance lies with energizing the GOP base with a sweeping message about the size of government. Or it could simply be a matter of genuine respect and chemistry.
This Ryan pick isn’t going to help close the gap with Latino voters. This isn’t going to persuade suburban, middle class moms to support the ticket. This pick is an acknowledgement on the Romney campaign’s part that they see their only path to victory as motivating their base.
Red State’s Erick Erickson:
The sighs you hear are Republicans sighing some relief. Finally, the Romney campaign has a spokesman who can do what Mitt Romney has never been capable of doing — defend success and articulate a message of why we must reform our nation’s budget and support free markets.
Rep Ted Deutch Tweeted:
“#PaulRyan wants to privatize Social Security. Looking forward to welcoming Mitt and his pick to Florida.” … “There’s nothing brave about cutting the programs that America’s seniors rely on for their health and financial security.”
I’m making a simple plea: examine the Ryan plan, and its Obama counterpart, on their merits, and for the different values they express and interest groups they defend, without pretending that there is some bravery or seriousness gap between them. All these people are serious now. I also encourage you to snicker discreetly, or if you’re in the right setting to start a drinking game, at each pundit occurrence of “brave” and “serious.” People who say these things are revealing their non-serious susceptibility to cliche.
David Frum Tweeted:
If Ryan, Republicans have converted what ought to be an easy win for the out party into the biggest gamble since 1964.
I should probably just shut up about Paul Ryan, because I believe there’s a federal statute requiring pundits to marvel at his “seriousness” and “courage.” I think there’s also a constitutional mandate enshrining him as a “deficit hawk,” even though he voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Bush military and security spending binge, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the bank bailout and the auto bailout, and against the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan. So I think for now I’ll just repost my screed about the Ryan plan from April 2011, suggesting that fuzzy math in the service of Tea Party ideology is not all that brave.
Choosing Ryan is a tacit acknowledgment by the campaign that its initial assumptions about the race – that it’s a coin flip, that Romney’s biography and experience could speak for itself, that making the race a referendum on President Obama was enough – no longer apply.
Daniel Larison doubts Ryan is ready to be president:
Now many movement conservatives have their consolation prize to make Romney’s nomination a little less offensive, and they won’t be able to say later that Romney ignored them or failed to be “bold” (a.k.a., desperate and trailing). In terms of political risk in the general election, choosing Ryan is certainly bold, but at the same time it is not a very surprising outcome. In the end, Romney gravitated to the one person on his reported short list that would generate enthusiasm among movement conservatives, and in so doing managed to sabotage his campaign’s theme of competence and readiness.
The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza:
“Ryan has no significant private-sector experience. Besides summer jobs working at McDonald’s or at his family’s construction company, or waiting tables as a young Washington staffer, Ryan has none of the business-world experience Romney frequently touts as essential for governing. … Ryan has worked as a think-tank staffer and Congressman, but he’s never been in charge of a large organization, and he has little experience with foreign policy. Given how Sarah Palin was criticized for her lack of such experience, I’m surprised that Romney would pick someone whose ability to immediately step into the top job is open to question. …
“Romney seems to have realized that his spring and summer strategies have been a failure. Since winning the nomination, Romney’s plan has been to turn the election into a simple referendum on Barack Obama. … In recent weeks, as Romney’s favorable ratings declined, some encouraging economic news dribbled out, and Obama’s poll numbers ticked up, a loud faction of Republicans began pointing out that Romney’s theory of the campaign was wrong. …
“Romney’s choice of Ryan will undoubtedly be criticized as capitulation to the right, and this pick does seem to demonstrate that Romney is not able or willing to distance himself from the base of his party. But the good thing about the Ryan pick is that the Presidential campaign will instantly turn into a very clear choice between two distinct ideologies that genuinely reflect the core beliefs of the two parties.”
“Wisconsin … has been ground zero for one of the major fights over public-sector unions – and it’s a state where, after Scott Walker defied a gubernatorial recall effort, Republicans are hoping to succeed in the fall. [Ryan] is the first House member to be selected as a vice presidential contender since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. … The young wonk, a Jack Kemp protege and fiscally conservative crusader, will galvanize many on the right who had been squawking the loudest about Romney. … “The congressman’s calling card is his ‘roadmap,’ a budget reform proposal that would turn Medicare into a voucher program for future recipients. In the days leading up to Ryan’s pick, a number of GOP strategists working on 2012 campaigns said that putting Ryan on the ticket could give Democrats a weapon with which to attack down-ballot Republicans.”
Ed Morrissey supports the choice:
Ryan has solid policy credentials, but also has enough media presence and charm to make people listen. Team Obama will hang Ryan’s budget on Romney, but they were going to do that anyway. Why not have the man himself as the VP to explain it? Ryan also gives the ticket solid Washington experience, while giving conservatives more hope that a Romney presidency will aim for serious change.
Timothy Noah can’t believe Obama’s luck:
If it is indeed Ryan, then that’s the final demonstration that Romney will never, ever move to the center. He will never stop trying to establish his bona fides with the Republican party’s hard right wing, even when doing so demonstrably harms his own interest, as it does here. The inmates will run the asylum.
Paul Ryan is an authentically dangerous zealot. He does not want to reform entitlements. He wants to eliminate them. He wants to eliminate them because he doesn’t believe they are a legitimate function of government. He is a smiling, aw-shucks murderer of opportunity, a creator of dystopias in which he never will have to live. This now is an argument not over what kind of political commonwealth we will have, but rather whether or not we will have one at all, because Paul Ryan does not believe in the most primary institution of that commonwealth — our government. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution make a lie out of every speech he’s ever given. He looks at the country and sees its government as an something alien that is holding down the individual entrepreneurial genius of 200 million people, and not as their creation, and the vehicle through which that genius can be channelled for the general welfare.
National Review’s Michael Potemra:
I am thrilled by the news that Governor Romney has chosen him, for deeply personal reasons. I worked in the Senate for twelve years, five and a half of them for Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin. Paul Ryan started out as an intern in our Small Business Subcommittee office, and rose fast; he always struck me as not just a highly intelligent person but also a really decent one. Even his ideological opponents give him credit for his intelligence, so that part won’t be surprising to anyone during the few months leading up to November. No, it’s his decency that I think will really impress people. If all most Americans have heard about Paul Ryan so far is the phrase “Ryan Budget” — usually from someone portraying that budget in unflattering and inaccurate terms — they’re in for a surprise.
Nate Silver Tweeted:
Not a pick you make if you think you’re ahead.
BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith:
“Ryan’s policy views are as clear as Romney’s are vague and complex, aimed not just at cutting spending but at rearranging Americans’ relationships with the federal government.”
As always, Romney buckled to the right rather than make a pick that says something about himself.
Huffington Post’s Jon Ward:
“Both liberals and conservatives will be thrilled with Romney’s choice. Conservatives believe Ryan is one of the brightest, best young faces and minds who can cheerfully articulate a case for limited government while simultaneously arguing that a less expansive bureaucracy and a revamped entitlement system is the best way to preserve government aid and benefits for the poor, indigent and elderly. … The battle to define Ryan and his reform plan will set off a messaging war between Democrats and Republicans, the likes of which has rarely been seen.
“If Romney were to win with Ryan on the ticket, he would have a mandate to make sweeping changes not only to the size of government, but to programs like Medicare and Medicaid that are products of former President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program. …
“For liberals, Ryan represents a chance to not just defeat Romney, but an opportunity to discredit, on the biggest stage in politics, the most wide-ranging expression of conservatives’ governing principles put forward in recent political memory. Liberals will say that Romney and Ryan want to cut government spending in a way that will hurt the economic recovery and cut assistance to those who need it. Obama himself has already attacked Romney for wanting to ‘turn Medicare into a voucher program,’ a reference to Ryan’s original proposal for Medicare.”
Paul Ryan is lauded by conservatives as “the real thing”–earnest, smart, ideologically committed. But, in terms of sheer visuals and atmospherics, won’t he strike many Americans as “the fake thing”? A couple of years ago I was watching him on TV, and one of my daughters, who was then around 15 years old and isn’t especially tuned in to party politics, walked into the room and, without having any idea who he was, said, “He looks like he’s selling something.” They used to say that Al Gore’s problem was that he was “wooden.” I think Ryan’s problem is that he’ll strike a lot of people as plastic. He calls to mind a robot I dimly recall from the General Electric “Carousel of Progress,” which was a big attraction at Disneyland when I was a kid and presumably has long since perished, possibly because the robot in question was so annoying.