By Tim Montgomerie
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Recent opinion polls had suggested that at this very early stage of the presential run-in (the big Conventions and potentially decisive debates are still to happen), Obama was beginning to open up a reasonable lead in national and battleground opinion polls. Mitt Romney has decided to respond with a very bold choice as his running mate. Congressman Paul Ryan, 42, is perhaps the boldest VP pick in modern times. Not bold in the Sarah Palin personality sense but bold in the policy sense because Ryan has strong, reforming beliefs and Romney is sending out an electric message to America that any administration he leads won't be a business-as-usual affair.
"America's Comeback Team" is how the Romney website is presenting the Republican ticket.
America's three leading conservative journals – the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and National Review – have all anticipated the choice of Ryan in recent days and welcomed it. So, too, on Twitter has the WSJ's owner, Rupert Murdoch. Today, National Review Online has applauded the choice, seeing the pick as indicating seriousness about America's budget deficit. But Ryan's proposals for trimming welfare and pension entitlements will be seized upon by Democrats and may make it harder for Republicans to win states like Florida, with large retired populations. An email from the Obama campaign, responding to the Ryan announcement gives a taste of the campaign to come:
"This election is about values, and today Romney doubled down on his commitment to take our country back to the failed policies of the past. Congressman Paul Ryan is best known as the author of a budget so radical The New York Times called it "the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times." With Mitt Romney's support, Ryan would end Medicare as we know it and slash the investments we need to keep our economy growing — all while cutting taxes for those at the very top."
That's also the message appearing on Left-wing websites like the New Republic: "Ryan really does want the biggest transfer of wealth, from poor and middle class to rich, in modern U.S. history".
For those wanting to read more I recommend…
- The Economist's view that Paul Ryan will make this a polarising election with Democrats certain to demagogue his budget plan.
- The Daily Mail's Toby Harnden lists ten reasons why Ryan could help Romney win, including: "Ryan, a personally affable and cordial politician with a young, photogenic family, will be hard to demonise. Obama will try to portray him as wanting to starve the elderly and slash government help for the vulnerable but Ryan's character and earnestness will make this hard to pull off."
- John Hinderacke at PowerLine: "If Ryan helps focus more attention on the budget and the nation’s crushing debt, it will be a plus."
- Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard: "Romney turns out to be a political heavyweight with a smaller than usual ego. Ryan is bound to steal more of the limelight than normal for a vice presidential candidate. He is the leading policy thinker in the Republican party. His budget, which all but a handful of congressional Republicans have voted for, is now the campaign’s platform."
- Ross Kaminsky at the American Spectator notes that many Republicans will wish Ryan was at the top of the ticket.