Originally Published: 11 August, 2012.
After months of media pontificating, we finally have a Republican Vice Presidential Nominee: Paul Ryan. Ryan is a Wisconsin Congressman and significantly, Chairman of the all-important House of Representatives Budget Committee. It’s a good, solid choice. Although for politicos, in the CNN 24 hour media age, it’s a bit of an anti-climax as it’s such a sensible choice. Significantly it won’t result in a three-ring media circus like the Palin fiasco did.
By choosing Ryan the Republicans are sending out three key messages:
1. “It’s, the economy, stupid.”
By choosing Ryan, they are attempting to make the race solely about the economy. This is a smart move as I believe the only way Romney will win is by making the terrible state of the economy the main issue and by successfully pinning the blame on Barack Obama.
2. Woo Conservative Voters.
Ryan is more conservative than Romney. The Romney Campaign is trying hard to make Conservative Republican voters forget about his time as a politically moderate Governor of the notoriously Liberal state, Massachusetts.
3. Ryan is a seasoned, political veteran.
The Romney Campaign won’t be going for headlines with this choice. Ryan is one of the most seasoned politicians in Washington. He is unlikely to make any gaffes. Likewise he unlikely to have any skeletons in his closet, unlike Palin. This also signals a move away from the choosing someone because they are a woman, an ethnic minority etc. There was a lot of talk about choosing a woman with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez generating the most buzz (both are speakers at the Republican National Convention).
A strong down-side to the Ryan choice is that if Romney does win and Ryan becomes VP, Republicans will lose one of their strongest players in Congress. However I doubt the Republicans will give a damn about that if they’ve won the Presidency. Given Ryan’s background as a seasoned Congressional strategist, a Vice President Ryan would ensure that a Romney White House was able to make better strategic decisions when interacting with Congress than the Obama White House has been able to.
However Ryan’s Congressional background may be a political liability considering Congress’s record low approval rates. Democrats may be able to gain ground by linking Ryan to Congress’s unpopularity and legislative ineptness.
Romney announced his choice in Norfolk, Virginia. Virginia is one of the key swing states along with Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Virginia is politically significant for Obama as he was the first Democrat to win the state since LBJ in 1964 and so it symbolised he was a new kind of Democrat. Romney’s decision to announce the VP candidate there shows the Republicans will be putting up a strong fight in the state. For the Obama Campaign, the ultra-Conservative Ryan provides ammunition to fire up the base. Ryan is the wakeup call needed to mobilise Democrats. Perversely, Ryan will simultaneously fire up both the Republican and Democratic bases.