If this is considered one of the riskier picks that Governor Romney could make for the 2012 GOP presidential ticket, it displays just how close-to-the-vest and safe the Republicans have collectively approached November.
Let’s face it, folks: picking Congressman Paul Ryan for the #2 slot on the 2012 GOP presidential ticket was not as hard as people think.
Neither was it risky. In fact, it allowed Governor Mitt Romney to make a move that, albeit seen as “risky” by several pundits and media types, is as risk-averse as possible with the biggest bang for his buck.
By selecting the 7-term, 42-year-old Cheesehead Congressman for the vice presidential post on the 2012 ticket, Governor Romney is providing himself the opportunity to mix the very best of most sides of the VP selection tug-of-war that he faced over the past few months. By going with one of the faces of the GOP’s future, Romney gets a chance to tap into youthful energy akin to what Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) would have brought to the ticket, especially considering the RNC’s convention romp to Tampa later this month.
Articulate, likable, and poised, Ryan brings qualities to the now-established Romney-Ryan 2012 ticket that the former Massachusetts governor sorely needs. The continued contrast between the 65-year-old wealthy Mormon and the media-beloved and younger incumbent has aided in causing the challenger’s recent slide in national polling. Ryan’s addition to the ticket allows the Republican Party to have an honest broker in the political talk about the nation’s future by infusing a Generation X Roman Catholic front-and-center in the national conversation. Better still, Mr. Romney gets all of the benefits of viable GOP youth without having to address some of the rumored questions that a Rubio candidacy may have brought the play-it-safe Romney camp.
Ryan also brings about a national name cache that outranks both Ohio Senator Rob Portman and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Despite the gentlemen’s records of achievement in high office, Portman’s lack of name cognition and Pawlenty’s quick withdrawal from the 2012 GOP presidential field would not have played well with either Republicans in need of a jolt of excitement or with independent voters wondering how the Republican ticket will directly appeal to them. Although Congressman Ryan is seen as the epitome of the traditional, hard-right fiscal conservative, he is also a nationally-known entity that is seen by both sides of the political aisle as a bright, focused expertise on fiscal matters. The conversations around the national debt crisis and his oft-criticized “Ryan Plan” for lowering the debt have given him a platform as a reputed fiscal authority. His political methodologies and theories may be questioned by political opponents and potential voters alike at times, but unlike former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, his applicable acumen for the relevant issues and likewise federal experiences on the most pressing matters of the 2012 election will not be challenged. Just the same, Mr. Ryan’s status as a fiscal wonk – acknowledged by those of the opposite party at the highest levels – afford him a unique platform as an expertise with more specialist economic experience than either member of the Democratic ticket, a reality that Portman or Pawlenty might not have achieved over the next 80 days.
These factors do not take into consideration the Tea Party factor in the decision that seals this move as a good one for the Romney camp. Although well-respected as a Washington insider, Senator Portman is not nearly as known within Tea Party circles, the very sets of political energy that Republicans need to continue the successes of 2009 and 2010 elections. Although acknowledged as a two-term governor of a traditionally-blue state, Governor Pawlenty had already proven his lukewarm acceptance by red-hot passionate conservatives. Just the same, although Rubio is the one of two Florida-based politicians that used the Tea Party momentum to overcome long odds on the way to Washington (with the other being Congressman Allen West), his short time in Washington would basically eliminate one of Mr. Romney’s staple statements: that President Obama may be a nice guy, but he is simply in over his head due to his lack of real-world and federal experiences.
Like Senator John McCain before him in 2008, Governor Romney needs the energy of grassroots conservatives behind him in order to beat Mr. Obama in the fall. This is even more important now that the grassroots have congealed as the Tea Party movement and have won many elections without the help of the Republican establishment. Paul Ryan is the best candidate to give Mitt Romney a chance to leverage both youth, experience, and genuine grassroots excitement within the political right. As a result, for the first time in a good while, the Romney camp has a strong opportunity to be on the offensive on the campaign trail. Now, they can provide voters a reason to consider the direction and talent gathered on the 2012 Republican ticket instead of merely focusing on demonizing the past 4 years in a campaign tone that comes off more John Kerry-esque than Ronald Reagan-esque.
Unlike Olympic analysis, overseas trips, impromptu $10,000 bets, and questions surrounding tax returns, the Ryan pick is neither risky, out-of-the-box, or damaging. Instead, it is the best way for Governor Romney to be seen as exciting, visionary, and reasonably safe to Republicans with the selection of the 7-term conservative darling – even if this selection may only shift the focus towards the overall narrative, not towards shifting a 2008 blue state back into the Republicans’ corner in November.
LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic 365 featured on several national and international outlet including CNN, Current TV “The Young Turks”, and Sirius-XM Radio. Catch Lenny on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this past weekend for more analysis on the GOP presidential ticket. His new book, “Spoken Thoughts of an Amalgamated Advocate in Today’s America” is now available electronically on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com . Catch Lenny’s The McAllister Minute on The American Urban Radio Network this week.