Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate could deepen the intrinsic tension between the Republican policy agenda and the voters it relies on to win elections.
Ryan’s ambitious budget blueprint, as passed twice by House Republicans over the past two years, crystallizes the GOP’s highest policy priority: shrinking the size of the federal government, largely by dramatically restructuring entitlement programs led by Medicare and Medicaid.
But the GOP today is increasingly dependent on the votes of older and blue-collar whites who are much more resistant to retrenching entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that largely benefit the middle-class.
Those attitudes haven’t stopped those voters from providing Republicans commanding margins in recent elections. But in polls, most of those older and blue-collar voters have consistently recoiled from the centerpiece proposal of Ryan’s budget: his initiative to convert Medicare from its existing structure into a premium support or voucher system.
Ryan is likely to bring energy and a propulsive sense of mission to a Romney campaign that has often seemed more about Power Points than passion. But Democrats believe that Romney’s elevation of the Ryan plan could allow them to cut into the big advantages that polls this year show Romney enjoying among both blue-collar and older whites.
“By putting Ryan on the ticket, the Ryan budget is their vision for the country,” said Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg. “They think the biggest problem of government is the money being spend on universal programs that older white non-college and working class voters depend on to have a middle class retirement. All that to pay for breathtaking tax cuts for the wealthiest. These are anti-elitist voters who are going to want very little to do with their vision and these two men.”
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney and Ryan: ‘America’s Comeback Team’
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Mitt Romney and his brand-new running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, introduced themselves on Saturday morning as men of contrasting backgrounds with the common goal of fixing America, a complementary combination of business and government experience, privileged CEO and hardscrabble everyman, establishment party leader and young, inspiring thinker.
Ryan Says His Background Will Help Romney
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Ryan stressed that his background in Congress will work to Romney's benefit. “I believe my record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful complement to Governor Romney’s executive and private sector success outside Washington,” he said.
Reinhard: Romney Cements Move to the Right
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Choosing Ryan as his running mate completes Romney’s evolution from centrist governor of a famously liberal state to standard bearer of an increasingly conservative Republican Party, as NJ's Beth Reinhard writes.
Ryan Will Help Romney With the Middle Class
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Putting Ryan on the ticket is a chance for Romney to turn the class attacks back on Obama, re-framing the election as a choice between a challenger who wants to boost the middle class and a president who wants to funnel hard-earned middle-class tax dollars to the poor.
Garrett: Obama Team Salivating Over Ryan Pick
[National Journal, 8/11/12] True or not, senior advisers to President Obama believed, long before Romney picked Ryan, that Romney had been oddly "collaborative" in making the Obama case against him. From team Obama's perspective, the Ryan choice transforms this imagined collaboration into a virtual partnership, as NJ’s Major Garrett reports.
Strong Rapport Between Romney and Ryan
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Republican aides, lobbyists, and Ryan’s own staff say that Ryan and Romney developed a strong, working rapport—so strong in fact that Ryan’s name shot to the top of the list of potential running mates.
Farrell: Ryan Has Parallels to Gore
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Like Al Gore, Ryan gives the ticket the promise of youth and energy, as NJ’s John Aloysius Farrell writes. And, as a wonky, media-savvy leader of Congress, he offers the voters someone who knows how to navigate Capitol Hill. The times provide an echo too. The economy was in a slump in the summer of 1992, and the national debt was a burning issue.
Cooper: Warning Signs for Romney
[National Journal, 8/11/12] It's hard to remember now, but the late Jack Kemp was the Paul Ryan of his day—a House member who was considered intellectual, idea-driven and the smartest voice in the party, as NJ’s Matthew Cooper writes. The cautionary lesson for Romney is that Kemp wound up adding little to the ticket in 1996.
Ryan Pick Brings Medicare to Center Stage
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Scrutiny of Romney’s Medicare reform policies are sure to intensify with Ryan as his running mate. Though he has since softened his stance, Ryan's 2011 Medicare reform plan has remained a powerful Democratic attack target and a policy deeply unpopular among the nation's seniors. But Romney’s camp is ready with a counterattack.
Kraushaar: Use of Ryan Budget in Hill Races Offers Insights
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Congressional campaigns often serve as an early-warning mechanism to measure voter sentiment on emerging issues, as Hotline’s Josh Kraushaar writes. With Ryan now on the GOP presidential ticket, it’s useful to look at several House races in which Ryan’s budget became a central campaign issue.
Foreign Policy Takes a Back Seat
[National Journal, 8/11/12] If anyone had any doubts that foreign policy will take a back seat in Romney’s strategy, his choice of Ryan as a running mate should eliminate them.
Wilson: Six Winners From the Ryan Pick
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Paul Ryan is having a pretty good day. Here is a list of six other winners, compiled by Hotline’s Reid Wilson, who will be smiling all day
VP Contenders Praise Ryan
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Republicans who were in contention to become Romney's running mate lavished praise on Ryan on Saturday. Meanwhile, his colleagues in Congress took to Twitter to comment.
First Ever ‘No Protestant’ Ticket
[National Journal, 8/11/12] The selection of Ryan, a Catholic, as Romney's running mate means that one of the two major parties is nominating a presidential ticket without a member of a Protestant faith for the first time in history.
Romney’s VP App Gets Scooped
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Romney’s mobile app promised users they would "be the first to know." But with a notification pushed out at 7:07 a.m. eastern time, users relying on the app got news of Ryan’s selection more than seven hours after anyone else paying attention.
Photos: How Many Veep Candidates Have Come From the House?
[National Journal, 8/11/12] A look at past elections shows that only four sitting House members have been on Democratic or Republican tickets since 1900, one of them a Speaker of the House.
Biography: Who is Paul Ryan?
[National Journal, 8/11/12] House Budget Committee Chairman. Three kids. Catholic. Learn the basics and more on Romney’s running mate.
Timeline: The Rise of Paul Ryan
[National Journal, 8/11/12] A brief history of Ryan and his path to prominence in the Republican Party.
Photos: Romney and Ryan on the Trail
[National Journal, 8/11/12] Saturday’s announcement was not the first pairing of the two politicos. They've already spent time together on the campaign trail this year.
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