It has been four days since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was his choice to be his running mate in the upcoming 2012 election. Reaction came fast and was mixed, depending of course on who was doing the talking.
The immediate question is did Romney’s choice of the very conservative Ryan help or hurt his chances of becoming the next president? After four days it’s hard to say for sure. Romney doesn’t really seem to have enjoyed much of a bounce in the polls since the choice was announced, leading President Obama now 47%-44%, but the latest Rasmussen favorability poll shows Ryan has a 50% favorable rating, up from 39% before he was announced as Romney’s choice for VP.
According to another Rasmussen telephone survey 43% of likely voters think Romney made the right choice by picking Ryan, and only 22% think he made the wrong choice. Rasmussen also reports that 66% of voters think government spending cuts are the best way to get control of the federal budget. Ryan has a reputation as a guy who wants to cut spending, and many observers believe that’s one of the main reasons Romney chose the House Budget Committee Chairman to be his running mate, to signal to voters that he was serious as well.
Even many on the left side of the aisle had kind things to say about Ryan. Democrat Senator Joe Sestak said Ryan was, “a good man, a family man,” on Fox News on the day of the announcement.
On his radio show this morning conservative radio host Bill Bennet suggested the Romney campaign, or someone, make a political ad out of a video clip of former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles praising Ryan and his budget plan about a year ago during a speech he gave at the University of North Carolina. I have included a clip of that video in this article, in which Bowles says some very kind words about Ryan.
“Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the university. I’m telling you this guy is amazing. … He is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did, by $4 trillion. … The president as you remember, came out with a budget and I don’t think anybody took that budget very seriously. The Senate voted against it 97 to nothing.”
Of course all of the comments that were made about Ryan as the selection weren’t quite as generous as Bowles’. I heard the phrase “death wish” used a few times. Some said the choice all but assured the GOP would lose Florida in November. One thing is for sure, the Democrats seem to have a formidable foe on their hands. It sure won’t be easy for the Obama campaign to convince voters their number two guy is more intelligent than Ryan. Biden has been in overdrive with the gaffes recently. Just when you thought it was safe to put him back in front of a microphone.
But who knows where the campaigns will go from here? Or what “October Surprise” might be lurking? It’s bound to get nasty if what we’ve seen so far is any indication. I don’t think anyone thinks it will be anything but one of the most vicious campaigns we’ve ever seen.