Thinking back to the 2008 election, many felt that Senator John McCain needed to pick a running mate that would not only inspire the GOP base but influence other demographics of voters to their side. A choice was made and his running mate was announced to be the former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. What seemed like a good decision in the beginning turned out to be unsuccessful and many blame McCain’s loss on his choice of Sarah Palin.
Four years later, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney has made his choice for his running mate to be seven-term congressman Paul Ryan. Now that his running mate has been made public, Democrats, Republicans and critics are sounding off on Ryan’s background and what he will bring to the oval office if elected. However, will the choice of Ryan help Mitt Romney’s chances of becoming President or will history repeat itself and naming Ryan does more harm than good?
Before announcing his choice, it was apparent that Romney was struggling in the polls. So, something had to be done to change that and what better way than picking Ryan, a budget-cutter whose view on government sharply differs from Obama and the Democrats. Ryan has tried for years to remake what many consider to be an untouchable Medicare program. His idea was to give the choice of anyone under 55 to leave Medicare and instead purchase their own insurance with help from the government.
The plan was passed by the House but criticized by Democrats and eventually dies in the Senate. Even Newt Gingrich criticized the plan as being “right-wing social engineering.” Nevertheless, Ryan’s suggestions of limiting entitlements remain very popular with a large majority of conservatives. Also, in choosing the personable and plain-talking congressman, he might end up attracting deficit-worried Democrats and independents as well as charged-up Republicans.
Jonah Goldberg wrote in the conservative National Review Saturday morning that, “The GOP base, particularly the tea parties, will now be even more enthusiastic because this gives them a much more solid reason to want Romney to win as opposed to just wanting Obama to lose. It shows that for all of the talk of Romney’s timidity and cautiousness he can make a bold decision when he needs to.”
Despite the advantages Ryan might give Romney in securing votes, possibly some in Midwest states, he does come with substantial political risk. For starters, some may look upon Ryan as being the intellectual of the ticket. His views, in addition to those of Romney, would give voters the choice of two futures. A concern would be if he would be considered the intellectual, where would that leave Romney? Romney is already under fire from some Republicans and Democrats for changing his positions on issues such as the health care plan he pioneered as the governor of Massachusetts and abortion.
Another concern is what energy he brings to the campaign become meaningful when it comes time to the election. History has shown in politics that vice presidential hopefuls helped to energize the base during the campaign trail but did little or worse when it came time for the election. Hopefuls Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin both helped energize their parties in the beginning but when it was time for the election, proved not to be effective. However, Ryan’s background could help Romney secure votes in states such as Ohio and the fact that he has won his last six races with no less than 63% of the vote.
Foreign affairs will be a focus by Democrats as Ryan’s focus has mostly been on the budget. He has been in Congress for 13 years that includes his chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. In that time, he has mainly focused on the budget and economics to the point that he called himself a “policy entrepreneur.”
The final and most important question voters will need to ask themselves is if it comes down to it, can Ryan be seen as being capable of being a potential president? At 42, many would view him as being too young to handle the role of president. In being fair, he would be the same age as Theodore Roosevelt, if elected, as well as being older than vice presidents Richard Nixon (40) and Dan Quayle (41). In fact, back in 1857, John C. Breckinridge (36) became the youngest vice president when he was sworn in with Democratic President James Buchanan.
What Ryan will need to do is prove he can handle being president if the situation calls for it. Presidential elections do not solely focus on debates over policy, such as details in spending cuts and appropriations, but in how he defines himself before the voters. Being a product of Washington, he was a think-tank staffer and worked as a congressional aide before being elected at the age of 28. For at least awhile, Romney’s choice for his running mate must now take the center stage on his own.
Mitt Romney Running Mate Announced: Paul Ryan
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney names Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate.
Mitt Romney Paul Ryan
Romney’s Ryan Choice Key To Politics of Medicare Debate
Mary Agnes Carey and Marilyn Werber Serafini discuss how Medicare reforms could figure into November’s presidential election now that presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has chosen Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to be his running mate.