Mitt Romney’s selection of U.S. Representative Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate was exactly the kind of “bold move” the Romney campaign needed to make to show the American electorate that he intends to take off the gloves and carry the fight to President Obama this fall. In addition, the Ryan pick checks six boxes critical to a Romney victory.
Let’s face it, the Republican faithful has been getting a little restless in recent weeks. They believe given the state of the economy and lack of direction for the country that Romney should be opening up a significant lead on President Obama.
Failure to take advantage of a number of softballs thrown by the Obama campaign have caused the race to be much tighter than it should be and have Republicans concerned. In short, they want to see Romney follow Ronald Reagan’s 1980 playbook when he defeated an incumbent Democratic president, instead of the Thomas E. Dewey “play it too safe “ approach of 1948. The selection of Paul Ryan shows that Mitt Romney has gotten the message.
Most importantly, though, the Ryan pick checks six key boxes that are vital to Mitt Romney winning the White House. As stated at the outset, putting Paul Ryan on the ticket is a “bold move” and Mitt Romney needed to do something bold. There is nothing dull or milque toast about Paul Ryan. Further, it underscores that the campaign will be about a restoration of small town American values.
Next, the Ryan pick ensures that economics will remain on center stage as “the issue” of the campaign. Especially after his “you didn’t build that” remark, President Obama has done everything he can to turn the discussion away from anything that even remotely relates to economics, jobs, budgets or putting food on the table for American families. Having the House Budget Committee Chairman and author of the “Ryan Budget Proposal” on the ticket guarantees that the future economic security of America will be “front and center” as the focus of the fall campaign.
Turnout will be absolutely critical in the presidential race. The key here to a Romney victory is to energize the conservative base and Paul Ryan does that in a big way. Ryan not only energizes economic conservatives, but also social conservatives. With a lifetime American Conservative Union (ACU) rating of over 90% and a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the selection of the Irish-American Roman Catholic means that the foot soldiers of the conservative movement will be out in force to maximize turnout on November 6.
Then there’s the “vision thing.” Because of past criticisms, it was important for Romney to show that he had a real vision for where he wants to lead America. The Ryan pick helps here, too. Long known as a policy wonk and deep thinker, the former Jack Kemp speechwriter brings an intellectual conservative vision to the ticket that is grounded in core beliefs.
There’s another big box that Paul Ryan checks—he helps the Romney campaign connect and relate to regular people. This will be crucial for undecided independents.
Paul Ryan is a small town, Midwestern family man who comes across as a regular guy. Guys like me can see themselves wearing a baseball cap and drinking a beer with Paul Ryan and talking about what kind of year the Packers are going to have. Average people can relate to Paul Ryan.
Lastly, to the extent anyone who’s not run for president or vice president before can be thoroughly vetted, Paul Ryan checks this box, too. As the House Budget Committee Chairman, Ryan has consistently battled the Obama administration on the national stage. He’s constantly been under the microscope of the national media. There should be no surprises. He’s ready for prime time.
Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate is the best decision he’s made this campaign. It checks all the boxes and is the “bold move” his campaign needed to send to the grass roots that he’s ready to take the fight to President Obama. It’s a smart move and it gives us insight into what his decision making process might be as president. Perhaps he has finally dusted off the old Ronald Reagan playbook from 1980.
Van D. Hipp, Jr. is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in government affairs, business development and public relations. He is the former Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and a past member of the Presidential Electoral College. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and currently serves on Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union and The National Capitol Board of The Salvation Army. Follow him on Twitter @VanHipp