By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan to be his running mate early Saturday — an announcement conservatives and liberals greeted with cheers and enthusiasm.
“It comes down to this: Conservatism doesn’t have a more articulate, intelligent or attractive spokesman than Paul Ryan,” conservative radio talk show host Charles Sykes said via Twitter.
“I’ve met Paul Ryan and I have no doubt that he’s a nice guy, he loves his family, that he roots for the Packers, that he loves brats and that he hunts deer,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate said in a statement.
“But what he and Mitt Romney would do to seniors and working families with their radical budget that pays for tax cuts for the wealthy by ending Medicare as we know it and gutting investments in education and healthcare? That’s not so nice.”
Conservatives see Ryan as one of their own, one of a crop of up-and-coming, strong-minded, bold Republicans willing and able to restore fiscal austerity.
Gov. Scott Walker called the Ryan pick a “bold and reform-minded selection.”
“America needs a comeback team to turn around the economy and to turn around the fiscal status of our country,” Walker said in a statement. “Romney and Ryan have the ideas and the experience needed to take on these core issues.”
Ryan, a Janesville resident, has represented Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District since 1998. He also chairs the U.S. House Budget Committee.
It was in that role that Ryan released his controversial “Roadmap“ budget proposal, the so-called Ryan Plan, that will be at the heart of any debate over and including the congressman between now and November.
Ryan’s fiscal plan would cut the top tax rate; eliminate capital gains taxes and partially privatize Social Security and Medicare.
Republicans see the proposal as a giant step toward addressing the out-of-control expense of entitlements.
And Democrats view it as an attack on low- and middle-income families and elderly Americans.
“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,” President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, wrote in a statement. ”His plan would also end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors.”
Political analysts have had Ryan on their short list of Romney’s likely VP picks for months, but Ryan’s stock rose fast in the past couple of days, with the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard suggesting Romney should choose the Wisconsin congressman.
The question, however, was whether Romney would go for such a controversial pick as Ryan, or opt for a safer running mate.
Romney announced his decision Saturday morning on the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va., saying of Ryan, “He understands honorable people can have honest differences. He’s never been content to simply curse the darkness. He’d rather light candles.”
Ryan, in turn, called Romney “a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at a crucial time in its history.”
Wisconsin Republicans, including the U.S. Senate candidates hoping to win the GOP primary Tuesday, were quick to applaud Romney’s choice — in some cases, even appearing to take some credit for Ryan’s rise.
“When I served in Congress and Paul was a young staff member, I saw in him a future leader; someone with the ability to understand the problems our country faces and the skills to get the job done. I worked hard to ensure he was the one to represent the district I had the honor to serve,” former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, R-District 1, a Senate candidate, said in a statement. Ryan assumed the congressional seat after defeating Neumann in 1999.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, also running for Senate, said, “… (T)he United States is going to find out what we already know in Wisconsin, that Congressman Paul Ryan is not only a great Congressman a great states person but an absolute wonderful human being … We are so proud of you, and wish you the best.”
Analysts see Ryan’s vice presidential candidacy as a high-risk, high-reward option for Romney — just as recent polls suggest the Romney campaign might be in dire need of a burst of enthusiasm.
RealClearPolitics.com, which aggregates political polls, says recent polling shows Obama leading Romney nationally by an average of 4.6 percent.
And The Hill reported this week that, according to the CNN-ORC poll released Thursday, Obama is gaining momentum with men and independents.
If Ryan is loved by conservatives but loathed by liberals, how will independents feel — and vote?
A comment from Karol Rouhier on Wisconsin Reporter‘s Facebook page Saturday morning crystallizes the risk Romney is taking by taking Ryan onboard.
“I think this was a very poor choice once again,” Rouhier wrote. “I find Ryan abrasive and incapable of compromise and I am conservative. I do NOT want Obama for four more years but I do not think Independents will go Republican and Romney like McCain before him has just thrown it away. God help us.”
Contact Kirsten Adshead at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Romney’s VP choice could boost his ratings in Badger State
By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Mitt Romney‘s vice presidential pick could give him a critical jolt in purple state Wisconsin.
A Marquette Law School poll last month of 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters found 1st District U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan had a favorability rating of 36 percent, while 29 percent of voters had an unfavorable impression of him. No surprise, Ryan’s favorability rating among Republicans was 62 percent, 10 percent among Democrats.
But the bigger draw is from the independents, with 40 percent rating Ryan favorable to 25 percent who had an unfavorable impression of the conservative.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Romney, among independents, polled 31 percent favorable to 40 percent unfavorable. Overall, Romney had a net unfavorable rating in Wisconsin — a politically split state where voters hold net favorable ratings for conservative icon Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic President Barack Obama.
“That’s the point at which the state could conceivably swing one way or another,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin, who leads the Marquette poll. “I’m not ultimately one who believes vice presidents are key to winning a state, even a home state. But it’s clear, at the beginning of the race at least, Paul Ryan will provide an advantage.”
Franklin cautions that Ryan brings positive ratings into the race for Wisconsin, but he’s “not a miracle worker.”
Contact M.D. Kittle @wisconsinreporter.com.