Late Friday night, news of Mitt Romney’s Vice-presidential running mate began to trickle out. When I heard it was Rep. Paul Ryan, I was surprised.
A few weeks ago, I put together a list of Romney’s likely VP picks for my Stephen Media column and I had Ryan number 6 on the list. I thought Romney would instead go for a safe pick, such as Sen. Rob Portman from Ohio, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty from Minnesota, or Gov. Bob McDonnell from Virginia.
Instead he went bold. Predictably, the liberals are already firing at the pick as extreme.
“Congressman Paul Ryan is best known as the author of a budget so radical The New York Times called it ‘the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times.’ With Mitt Romney’s support, Ryan would end Medicare as we know it and slash the investments we need to keep our economy growing — all while cutting taxes for those at the very top,” wrote Obama’s Campaign Manager Jim Messina who visited Arkansas a few months ago to open Obama’s Arkansas Campaign Office.
By contrast, conservatives are thrilled with the pick.
“The American people want a leader who understands that massive debt is a drag on job creation and will work to fix the economy and get our spending under control. Paul Ryan knows that jobs and the economy is the number one issue to voters. As America’s Comeback Team, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan have the energy, ideas and knowledge to get America working again and put us on a path to a brighter future,” wrote Republican Party of Arkansas Doyle Webb.
“Paul is our party’s leader on our country’s most urgent challenge: solving our looming debt crisis. Paul’s budget will reverse the reckless Obama spending, save Medicare, and put America back on the path to prosperity. The Ryan budget is as courageous as the Obama budget is morally and fiscally bankrupt. I am proud to be running on the Romney-Ryan ticket as part of America’s Comeback Team,” wrote Republican Fourth District Congressional candidate Tom Cotton.
“Mitt Romney made a great pick today – one worthy of the next President of the United States and a great way to complete America’s Comeback Team,” said Cong. Tim Griffin, chairman of the Romney for Arkansas campaign. “I am honored to call Paul Ryan my friend, colleague and next door neighbor in the House. He is fighting to change Washington in order to grow jobs, encourage economic growth and avert a debt crisis. Paul Ryan is a patriot who is fighting for our children’s future, and I know that as vice president, he will continue his fight to rebuild America.”
The bold pick is likely to change the debate. In recent days, the criticism against Romney has been focused on attacking his time at Bain and painting him as an out-of-touch rich guy. With Ryan, the debate has already moved back to charge that Republican views on the economy are extreme with drastic cuts.
Bring on this debate! Yes, let’s talk about the budget and attack the only party to submit one. This highlights the inability of the President and the Democratic Party to put together their own. And let’s absolutely talk about the economy and failed economic policies of the current administration.
The choice was unexpected but might just be what was needed to move the debate back to the issue Romney wants to talk about.