Paul Ryan: a sign of a campaign in trouble

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, congressman from Wisconsin, as his running mate was surprising, but no bolt out of the blue like when John McCain nominated Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate. But Romney is taking a big chance with Ryan, just like McCain did. Ryan is untested, like Palin, largely unknown to the general American public, like Palin, and Romney’s choice gives the impression of desperation, as McCain’s did.

Romney’s campaign is in trouble, if not in a crisis. He needed to do something drastic to. In three recent major polls, President Obama’s lead over Romney has increased, and according to Fox News, it is now 9 per cent. Romney needed to do something drastic to wake up the slumbering conservative Republican base.

The choice of Ryan means that Romney has succumbed to the harsh pressures from the party’s right wing and leading press voices like The Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard, which demanded that Ryan, seen by them as a leading conservative intellectual, be nominated. These voices opposed candidates such as Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty and Ohio’s Rob Portman, too plain, too much like Romney himself and without any chance to inspire the conservative Republican voter base.

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and the Republican Party’s chief economic and budget spokesman, is a controversial figure, best known for the heavy-handed, radical cuts, in the country’s entitlement programs, particularly Medicare, while lowering the taxes for higher income groups and increasing them for the middle class. Ryan as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee means that the campaign will now completely be about pensions, health care for the elderly and a fair tax system. That debate will be favorable to President Obama.

Conservative columnist David Frum describes the problems in his comments on the Daily Beast today. The election will not be at about jobs and the economy but about security, about pensions and Medicare.

Economic conditions are so tough – the Obama re-election proposition is so weak – that Romney may win anyway. But wow, the job just got harder.

The choice of Ryan, according to Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog in the Washington Post, means that “both the Democrats and the Conservatives have the exact debate they wanted. I’m not so sure about Republicans. “

To learn more about Paul Ryan, 42 years old, Catholic, father of three children, born in Janesville, Wisconsin, which he has represented in the House of Representatives since 1998, you must not miss Ryan Lizza’s recent stellar profile of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in The New Yorker.

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