Cheesehead. Backwoods. Young. These are some of the words that some might use to describe the recently chosen candidate for Republican Vice President, Paul Ryan. The House Budget Committee Chairman and native of the small town of Janesville, Wisc., Ryan is certainly an interesting pick for the VP position on the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ticket. But how will this affect Romney’s chances of being elected?
To say that the Ryan pick was a bold move by the Romney team would be an understatement. It shows that Romney has a serious commitment to policy, as opposed to simply electability. Other potential VP candidates were Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator from Florida, Rob Portman, U.S. Senator from the great state of Ohio, Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under President George W. Bush, and various others.
Rubio was the favorite for some time, according to at least one Fox News analyst. Rubio would have served multiple purposes on the campaign front, gaining votes not only from the critical state of Florida, but also the Latino vote, an increasingly important constituency within the U.S. Similarly, Portman would have helped to solidify the Buckeye State. No Republican has ever been elected without winning Ohio, and only two Democrats have been able to win in the last century without carrying Ohio. Rice would have helped to energize women voters.
So why Ryan? After all, his controversial budget has come under scrutiny not only from House and Senate Democrats, but also directly from President Barack Obama. Democrats accuse Ryan of slashing Medicare in his budget. With senior citizens making up a large part of the voting bloc, this was a calculation taken into account from the Romney team. As opposed to shying away from the issue, Ryan and the Romney team have gone on the offensive, citing how President Obama took $716 billion from Medicare to help fund the Affordable Care Act.
Ryan is a young, brilliant and attractive candidate who has energized the Republican Party, which is why Romney chose him as his running mate. Ryan knows his stuff – he was the ranking member of the House Budget Committee in 2007 and then became chair in 2011. With the fiscal meltdown that has hit Washington, it was a smart move to have Ryan on the ticket.
In addition, Ryan also appeals to Midwestern voters. With an understanding of how the “Rust Belt” has been affected by outsourcing, Ryan will be more apt to convince voters across the Breadbasket of the U.S. – both working class and rural voters. His hometown, Janesville, is what his brother called a “microcosm of the U.S.” It has rural, urban and suburban areas all within it. That knowledge and ability to appeal to voters in each sector will be critical for the Romney team.
Finally, Ryan is popular among conservatives. Although this might hurt the chances of bringing aboard more Democratic voters, it has worked to energize the base. The enthusiasm index is much higher among Republicans than with Democrats – a complete opposite from 2008. If everything goes as planned, the Ryan addition will help bring Republicans to the polls and keep Democrats at home.
All of these things considered – the Ryan VP choice was the right pick for Romney.
Dave Dziak campaigns for the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee