Romney is not much for bold moves, so this morning's choice would suggest that he's looking to reset his campaign. Certainly, the recent polls would suggest that he's losing ground - and Ryan, after all, is young, smart, and confident. But he's also a lightening rod, which is probably not what you want in a VP. Here's a sampling of reaction:
The selection of Ryan, a budget and policy wonk with a penchant for drawing charts to drive home key points, has the potential to transform the presidential campaign -- increasingly dominated in recent days by attack ads and petty taunts -- into a more substance-driven race. The seven-term congressman has led the charge among Republicans for spending cuts and a Medicare overhaul that would eventually transition the government health- care program for the elderly into a privately run system. That has endeared him to the anti-tax Tea Party wing and Republican Party base, which had publicly pressed Romney in recent days to make a bold pick to spotlight a clear vision for the economic recovery that is the opposite of Obama's. "He's obviously a charismatic, highly intelligent, thoughtful Republican leader who's widely respected," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. "He takes our deficit and debt problems seriously and he has the intellectual heft and personal courage to attack those problems head on."
From Ezra Klein, Washington Post:
Ryan upends Romney's whole strategy. Until now, Romney's play has been very simple: Don't get specific. In picking Ryan, he has yoked himself to each and every one of Ryan's specifics. And some of those specifics are quite...surprising. For instance: Ryan has told the Congressional Budget Office that his budget will bring all federal spending outside Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050. That means defense, infrastructure, education, food safety, basic research, and food stamps -- to name just a few -- will be less than four percent of GDP in 2050. To get a sense for how unrealistic that is, Congress has never permitted defense spending to fall below three percent of GDP, and Romney has pledged that he'll never let defense spending fall beneath four percent of GDP. It will be interesting to hear him explain away the difference.
From David Frum, Daily Beast:
Paul Ryan is wrong, wrong, wrong to imagine that a society can deal with rising social-insurance costs while entirely exempting Republican-voting age cohorts and without asking for anything from its richest people--in fact while simultaneously delivering those people a huge tax cut. Medicare reform will mean large sacrifices for younger and poorer Americans, exactly the people who have lost most in this recession and the slow-growth years before the recession. A president cannot ask that generation to bear all the remaining burden of sacrifice alone. You can't lead the battle for deficit reduction from the rear. Yet that is exactly the proposition embedded in the Ryan plan. That's bad politics--and worse governance.
From the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza:
What's the potential upside? Romney seems to have realized that his spring and summer strategies have been a failure. Since winning the nomination, Romney's plan has been to turn the election into a simple referendum on Barack Obama. With the ailing economy, Romney believed, he needed to do little more than stand around and wait for voters to sour on the incumbent. When they did, Romney would be there as the default alternative. In recent weeks, as Romney's favorable ratings declined, some encouraging economic news dribbled out, and Obama's poll numbers ticked up, a loud faction of Republicans began pointing out that Romney's theory of the campaign was wrong. Their argument was that Romney needed to turn the race into more of an ideological debate. He needed, these Republicans said, to embrace a bold policy agenda that would dramatically contrast with Obama's. Nobody made this case more loudly than Paul Ryan. Presidential candidates shouldn't "run on vague platitudes and generalities," he told me in one interview. "I want a full-throated defense for an alternative agenda that fixes the country's problems," he said in another.
From Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post:
Romney is above all else a problem-solver, a doer and a fixer. Ryan, likewise, is a policy maven who has since 2007 been trying to advance budget, tax and health-care reforms, moving the Republican Party to become the champion of market-based reform. Ryan is a smart man, certainly the smartest in Congress, with an eye for detail and a facility with numbers. Romney prizes brains, precision and the ability to wield numbers. Ryan uses a scalpel, not a sledge hammer in skewering his opposition; Romney likewise uses piles of data to slay his competitors (as he did in the Florida and Arizona GOP primary debates). Ryan is personally and professionally disciplined, a straight arrow with a gee-whiz brand of optimism. Romney is as well. The joke has been that Ryan could be Romney's sixth son. He is, to my eye, more the younger brother, the brains and the idea factory for the top of the ticket who will sell himself as the leader best able to execute the Romney-Ryan vision.