Watching Mitt Romney campaign this weekend after he tapped Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, it was hard not to be struck by how significantly the candidate’s message and delivery improved.
Romney was newly energized, sounding almost like an evangelical preacher as he discussed capitalism and the free market. His rhetoric was sharp and specific. He looked confident in his sit-down interview with Ryan on CBS. It was as if the ghost of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie entered the cautious, often-awkward pol’s body, to great effect. (Romney even challenged a heckler at last night’s event in Wisconsin.)
This is the type of change that’s very tough to measure in even the best polls and focus groups. Romney, who overruled his top consultants in picking Ryan, clearly felt a kinship, and the chemistry was undeniable on their first campaign stops. Romney looked unshackled, free to play to his biggest political asset: a fiscal conservatism that has marked his career, from working at Bain Capital to the Salt Lake City Olympics to his tenure as Massachusetts governor.
This carries risk, of course. The hallmark of Romney’s campaign so far has been caution. Will undecided voters embrace the new, unplugged Romney, or find it inauthentic? And by branding the ticket as two bold truth-tellers, the campaign is inviting close scrutiny of Ryan’s record, which could overshadow the campaign’s broader narrative.
In a sense, Romney is placing a bet that calling for major changes is a political winner in the middle of a heated presidential race. It's high-risk—and perhaps high-reward.
—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
The Right Completes Its Hostile Takeover of Romney
[National Journal, 8/13/12] Mitt Romney’s veep choice is sending the message to the American electorate that he won’t be moving to the middle after all. National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes that the election will turn on the question: Who’s really in charge of the GOP?
Romney: Shooting Should Spark ‘Thoughtful Consideration’ NEW!
[National Journal, 8/13/12] Reacting to Monday's shootings in Texas -- the third such incident to occur in recent weeks -- Mitt Romney said that "thoughtful consideration" needs to be given to how to deter such crimes without toughening gun laws.
Romney-Ryan Ticket Brings Lame Duck Forward
[National Journal, 8/13/12] Thanks to Rep. Paul Ryan, the debate over spending and taxes, which Washington once thought would be taken care of behind closed doors, has been thrust into the national spotlight.
Poll: Ryan Gets Lower Marks Than Palin, Biden in 2008
[National Journal, 8/13/12] A new USA Today/Gallup poll gave Ryan poor marks: 42 percent of those polled have a “fair” or “poor” view of Ryan, while 39 percent found him to be an “excellent” or “pretty good” choice.
Biden: Ryan Adds Definition to Romney’s ‘Vague Commitments’ NEW!
[National Journal, 8/13/12] Vice President Joe Biden on Monday began seeking to make the case that Rep. Paul Ryan's record as House Budget Committee chairman is an ominous portent for how he and Mitt Romney would govern in the White House, saying that Ryan "has given definition to the vague commitments that Romney’s been making.”
Hecklers Greet Ryan at First Solo Campaign Stop
[National Journal, 8/13/12] Ryan, whom Romney's campaign plans to deploy heavily in Iowa, was greeted on Monday with resistance from an aggressive group of hecklers at his first solo campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair.
Ryan Is Not Master of His Own Domain
[National Journal, 8/13/12] Ryan's digital rollout as a vice presidential candidate has hit a few virtual speed bumps. For example, Paulryan.com and similar domain names are not yet owned by Ryan or the Romney campaign.
Conservative Star’s Small-Town Roots
[New York Times, 8/13/12] The death of Ryan’s father when he was only 16 was a turning point in Ryan's life. From growing up in Janesville, Wis., to the influence he had on tea party freshmen in 2010, The Times explores Ryan’s life, including some news about how Ryan may have helped quash a "grand bargain" over spending last summer. Meanwhile, here’s a look at Ryan’s social politics.
The Ryan Budget: By the Numbers
[National Journal, 8/13/12] From sequestration and deficit reduction to Social Security and programs that help the poor, National Journal’s Katy O’Donnell takes an in-depth look at Ryan’s budget.
What Does a Ryan Pick Mean for Latinos, Blacks, Women?
[National Journal, 8/13/12] National Journal explores Ryan’s record on issues important to women, blacks, Hispanics, working poor, and gays. A preview: Ryan has said he opposes partial-birth abortion, and The Los Angeles Times reported that Ryan voted against repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Tea Party Gets Its Man in Ryan
[Associated Press, 8/13/12] To this point, the tea party has only reluctantly backed Romney. But Romney’s selection of Ryan marked a huge victory for the tea party, and may quiet those critical of Romney's more moderate positions.
Presidential Debate Moderators Announced
[National Journal, 8/13/12] PBS’s Jim Lehrer, CNN’s Candy Crowley, and CBS’s Bob Schieffer will be the moderators for this year's presidential debates, and ABC’s Martha Raddatz will moderate the vice presidential debate.
Romney, Scott Clash Over State’s Economy
[Miami Herald, 8/13/12] The Romney campaign plays melancholy music as it describes “Obama’s Florida” as a state with “8.6 percent unemployment, record foreclosures, 600,000 more Floridians in poverty.” But Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, greets the same 8.6 percent number as a sign of improvement.
Obama Blasts Ryan on Farm Bill Stalemate NEW!
[National Journal, 8/13/12] Opening up a new line of attack against Rep. Paul Ryan, President Obama told an Iowa audience on Monday that Mitt Romney's running mate and other congressional Republicans need to drop their objections to passing a farm bill to help farmers deal with persistent drought and other problems.
Obama Video Attacks Romney-Ryan on Medicare
[National Journal, 8/13/12] The Obama campaign’s new video, which hits Romney and Ryan on proposed cuts to Medicare, features Florida seniors characterizing the GOP proposal as “painful to the working-class person.”
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