Statement from the Obama campaign:
â€œIn naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes.â€
My thoughts: I don’t think Paul Ryan is the new Sarah Palin. He’s not going to self-destruct the way Palin did. However, I think the Obama campaign is smart enough and aggressive enough to take the fight to the RR campaign, and keep them on defense. And recently Dem leadership has gotten much, much better at message discipline.
Ryan’s presence on the ticket helps the Obama campaign focus on what a Romney administration might actually do, which ought to scare the stuffing out of most Americans. So far, Romney’s arguments for himself are all warm and fuzzy and soft-focused promises about how he’s going to make it all better, with the unspoken subtext that we’re supposed to just trust him on how he’s going to do that, because he’s not going to tell us. He’s not going to be able to get away with that any more, with Mr. Cat Food standing next to him on the podium.
I doubt very much that Ryan was Mittens’s original choice, even though he and Ryan appear to think very much alike. But the GOP establishment appears to have put him on notice that it would be Ryan or else. They probably want to run Ryan for president in 2016, and which they could reverse the ticket now.
The most important thing to know about Mitt Romneyâ€™s running-mate choice is this: Itâ€™s not the move he would have made if the campaign was going the way he hoped it would.
Until now, the Romney strategy has been relentlessly single-minded. Heâ€™s had no interest in articulating or embracing specific policy proposals and has generally shied away from saying or doing anything that anyone might find at all unsettling. More than any other candidate in recent history, heâ€™s strained to be generic, someone positioned to serve as a protest vehicle for swing voters who are inclined to vote President Obama out….
…But the generic strategy isnâ€™t working for Romney, or at least it doesnâ€™t seem to be. The Ryan pick represents a new approach: Make the campaign about a Big Idea â€“ in this case, the radical reimagining of tax policy and spending priorities that Ryan has proposed in the name of deficit reduction. Whether Romney now runs specifically on Ryanâ€™s budget blueprint or some revised version of it doesnâ€™t really matter. For the rest of the campaign, he and his running-mate will be answering for the social safety net cuts, Medicare voucher-ization and steep tax cuts for the wealthy that Ryan has called for.
In any presidential election in which there’s an incumbent, there’s a larger fight about whether the race is a “referendum” or a “choice.” In 2012, Mitt Romney obviously wanted it to be a referendum — if you’re not satisfied with the status quo, replace President Obama with a generic Republican. The tack helps explain why the GOP candidate has been so vague on so many issues.
As of this morning, Romney’s strategy has been thrown out the window. Paul Ryan wrote a right-wing budget plan, which redistributes wealth from the bottom up, and which guarantees voters will be presented with a very clear choice in the fall, not a referendum.
Indeed, it’s not unreasonable to think the entire election dynamic will be turned on its ear — voters will be asked to vote, not on Obama, but on the far-right Romney-Ryan vision.
On the other hand, I’m hearing that Ryan really is a good campaigner and quick on his feet in a debate, so the Obama campaign is going to have to stay smart to make this work for them. And much of the news media will be working very hard to portray Ryan as “serious” and “bold.” But I’m feeling pretty good about November right now.