By now, you’ve all heard the news: Romney-Ryan 2012! The Republican nominee for President (yes, I’ve dispensed with the “presumptive” tag), Mitt Romney, has selected Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) as his running mate. His choice obviously departs from my prediction, but it’s a great choice.
I’m sure everyone knows a little bit about who Paul Ryan is, so I won’t detail his biography here. But I do want to hit a few high points for you—points I believe will are significant to the election. Rep. Paul Ryan is an energetic 42-year-old Catholic family man from Wisconsin. He is the always-controversial Chairman of the House Budget Committee and is about as conservative as they come. But what do these biographical points have to do with the election? Let’s review.
Ryan is, at 42, the youngest individual on the national tickets (President Obama recently turned 51, Romney is 65, and current Vice President Joe Biden will be pushing 70 by Election Day). With Democrats all-but monopolizing the youth vote for as long as most of us can remember, it’s important to see a youthful, fresh face on the GOP ticket. Ryan has the ability to effectively communicate a message of fiscal sanity and his youthfulness will make it more appealing to the 18-40 demographic.
Romney has been struggling to get conservatives coalesced behind him since he began running for president in 2007; this cycle has been no different. With a host of more conservative candidates in the primary, Romney struggled to secure the nomination, even though he was considered the frontrunner going into the primary season. Selecting a strong conservative like Ryan rounds out the ticket and makes conservatives more comfortable voting for a man they view as moderate at best.
The Catholic vote has been up for grabs of late, considering President Obama’s attacks on religion, specifically the contraceptives mandate that hits the Catholic Church right in the gut of one of its long-held deep religious tenets. Like another youthful Catholic did in 1960, I believe Ryan will be able to draw the Catholic vote. Also, selecting a running mate from a Christian faith was important for Romney, who still faces criticism about being Mormon.
The Romney camp has been the source of a lot of accusations, most of which are false. (This is politics, after all.) But one of the legitimate concerns has been a lack of energy. That all changed on Saturday, though. Paul Ryan brings with him an all-important intangible: Energy. Energy translates to excitement, and you can tell Paul Ryan is excited. And after watching some of the video from this weekend, I see a lot more excitement from the Romney-Ryan crowds than I’ve seen recently from the Romney gatherings.
Energy further translates into enthusiasm. As I discussed above, conservatives weren’t thrilled with Romney. Sure, he’s not Obama, and that would have been plenty of reason to turn out a lot of conservatives, but he needed more. And now he has more. Ryan has a strong conservative voice and is highly respected by conservatives. In fact, he has brought so much enthusiasm to the ticket that in the first four hours after the announcement, the campaign raised $1.2 million and has topped $2 million in the last three days. I believe he will give the “I’ll just stay at home” conservatives a reason to get out and vote.
The Ryan selection didn’t come as a shock to me. Sure he has been touted for months as leading the short list of potential running mates, and some have even said that Ryan is the kind of guy Romney would have hired at Bain Capital. But that’s not why I was less than surprised. Romney has insisted on maintaining an economic focus with his campaign. Choosing Ryan, as the Budget Chairman, keeps the focus on the economy, where a choice like Rick Santorum would have shifted the focus to the social issues, a risk Romney wasn’t willing to take. Sure, the campaign will come under fire, as they already have, for Ryan’s allegedly “radical” budget, but the focus will be on the economy: The one thing President Obama doesn’t want the focus to be on.
BRINING IT ALL HOME
Romney made an excellent, yet very bold, choice of a running mate. Sure, the move was risky, but as the old saying goes: The greater the risk, the greater the reward. I believe Ryan is exactly what Romney needed. This first display of boldness from a very methodically mundane Romney was a solid one. Ryan brings a lot to the ticket, both demographically and intangibly, that will likely prove to be very beneficial to the Romney hopes of ousting President Obama.