By M.D. Kittle Wisconsin Reporter
That didn’t take long.
As you might expect, seconds after presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced he had tapped Wisconsin congressman and budget hawk Paul Ryan as his running mate, a rush of Republicans rallied around the flag – extending well wishes, praise and predictions of great success
As they should.
Ryan, who rattles the chains of liberals everywhere, is a sensational pick, in every sense of the word. I believe the turn of phrase everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Politico has turned is: Bold choice.
But some of the rallying around Ryan is coming off as a bit ingratiating, some of it bordering on delusional, beyond the usual anointed butt-kissing.
Of course , the also-rans are shaking off their Olympic bronze medals with brave face.
Florida’s Marco Rubio, a conservative star in his own right, did the chin-up, brave-solider thing. The U.S. senator, who was on the VP candidate short list and seen as a smart pick to bring up Romney’s woeful Latino voter numbers, applauded Mitt’s pick.
“Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is truly inspired,” Rubio said in a statement, released by the Romney campaign some five hours after the Romney-Ryan team rolled out beside the U.S.S. Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va.
You could understand a little resentment on Rubio’s part. You have to think the guy who was reportedly oh-so-close to being No. 2 was thinking, “Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions … but man he really messed up on this one. Well, good luck with that, Mitt. You could have had Marco. You know what would have been an inspired choice, Mitt? Romney-Rubio. Sounds good, doesn’t it?”
Rubio, like the other prominent conservatives and passed-over VP prospects, talked up Ryan’s reformer credentials while closely associating with the would-be VP.
His is a story of a benevolent Paul Ryan, who carried Rubio over the fiery coals of irrelevance.
“I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot.,” Rubio said.
It was the same story in Montana. There, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg—his diminutive state’s only U.S. congressman—is locked in a tight race with incumbent Sen. Jon Tester. Hoping to seduce some of the state’s moderate voters perhaps, Rehberg in June ran TV ads touting his independence of Paul Ryan. He was rightly eviscerated by the Wall Street Journal and by Montana reporters, including my colleague Dustin Hurst.
But this morning? Rehberg’s a new man: “I’m excited that Gov. Romney chose my friend and House colleague Paul Ryan to be our party’s candidate for Vice President,” Rehberg wrote in a press release. “It’s clear that Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan are the right team to lead our nation in that comeback.”
Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate candidates quickly got on board the Ryan train, in the same way they have glommed on to Badger State conservative paragon Gov. Scott Walker.
Chief among them, Mark Neumann, fellow Janesville resident and Ryan’s predecessor in Congress.
Neumann, in a press release, said he and wife, Sue, have been friends with Paul and Janna Ryan for years.
“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,” Neumann said. “I worked hard to ensure he was the one to represent the district I had the honor to serve.”
True. Neumann campaigned for Ryan in 1998.
But knowing Neumann’s record of either positioning to destroy politicians or insinuating himself into their lives, I get the sense Neumann is really telling GOP voters that he single-handedly created Republican rock star Ryan, suckling him, rearing him to the fulfillment of Ronald Reagan incarnate. The Neumann press release could have stated, “I am pleased to have saved Paul from the orphanage, succoring him at my conservative bosom, raising him as my own son, and setting him on the right path to fiscal conservatism.”
Paul Ryan has and will continue to be the focus of GOP well wishes and lauding in the coming days.
I imagine the Wisconsin congressman’s back is going to get sore from all the hangers on.
At the end of the day, his fans and sycophants are right: Paul Ryan is, as they say, a good choice for VP. Like his mentor, the late Jack Kemp, himself a vice presidential candidate, Ryan has a keen eye for what fiscal responsibility looks like when it comes to a badly bloated federal budget.
The work he has done to develop that eye? That was all Paul Ryan.