Romney / Ryan: Why this VP pick was a mistake

We had a good discussion about Paul Ryan’s budget earlier this year at Paperback Theology, (see Should Politicians be telling Theologians What to Think?). Now that he’s been named as Romney’s running mate my initial reaction is that this a pretty big mistake. The reason I think this is simple: Ryan doesn’t get Romney anything he doesn’t already have.

Ryan doesn’t help with conservatives:

Ryan doesn’t help Romney with conservatives because Romney doesn’t need help there. The staunch right wing of the Republican Party was never going to vote for President Obama, and they are certainly not going to sit this election out. Choosing Ryan doesn’t help Romney there, because he doesn’t really need help. Even if Mitt Romney’s true colors are that he is a Moderate Republican, he merely had to appear conservative enough to stave off a third party challenge from the Tea Party. He’s done that already. The Ryan selection doesn’t help Romney with conservatives because they are already highly energized.

Ryan doesn’t help with moderates and undecideds:

In Kansas, for instance, the moderates are still stinging from last week’s primary in which 17 of 22 moderates lost to conservative challengers fueled by money from Americans for Prosperity and the Chamber of Commerce. Ryan is part of the club who just sent moderates packing. Any moderates who were thinking Romney will be much more gun-shy. Many of the moderates who voted for Obama because of Palin, will vote for Obama again because of Ryan. Undecided voters are generally looking for common sense leaders, not strident political ideologues. I don’t think Ryan helps with undecided voters unless they are from the more libertarian camp.

Ryan doesn’t help with foreign policy:

Ryan doesn’t really have any foreign policy experience. When Barak Obama was taking hits about his lack of foreign policy credentials, Joe Biden went a long way toward relieving those concerns. Romney is a smart guy, he’s a grown up and he seems to know his stuff. I really don’t worry about his lack of foreign policy experience, but some will have concerns about his lack of experience compared to Obama’s 4 years in office. Ryan doesn’t help there.

Ryan hurts with seniors and minorities:

Ryan’s Budget defines his political career up to now. It’s the most visible and controversial thing he’s ever put out there. It will scare off seniors and minorities, especially Latinos. That could put Florida – where the president has been trending since February – in the bank for Democrats.

Ryan doesn’t win you Wisconsin:

President Obama has a strong lead in the polls in Wisconsin. Plus, the presidential election inWisconsinis as much about Scott Walker as Obama/Romney. The Democrats, in fact, are going to benefit from incredibly unpopular republican governors in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin – all swing states, and all places where Romney cold have found support with a different VP pick (a Latino or a woman).

Romney gets tagged with Ryan’s Budget:

The biggest downside is that Romney now has to deal with criticism for something he wasn’t even involved in. It’s going to allow the Democrats to paint Romney as far right, which I don’t think is truly who Romney is.

What this pick tells me is that the Romney camp thinks they can win on the “size of government” issue. While I think they will win that issue, I don’t think that issue will define the election. I think the pick, while sure to be wildly popular among conservative republicans, will be a miss in the end.

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  • Les

    This is a great, quick summary of how CONTROLLED Romney already is by the far right wing branches of the Republican party. The adding of Ryan to the ticket is really the dumbest thing he could’ve done. It shows that Romney and his “string pullers” aren’t interested AT ALL in working together to make this country better. He’s already in trouble with the women vote, the hispanic vote, and the black vote (obviously). Instead of making some sort of attempt to bridge any of those gaps, he basically let his “handlers” pick the absolute WORST V.P. candidate out there. They are up to their old obstructionist tricks and just looking to shove their right wing, “rich come first” idealologies down our collective throats. From a guy who at least had people thinking “he seems pretty together, pretty smart…” this was one boneheaded move. Not Smart at all.

    • Cynthia Beach

      I think we could focus on the positive attributes of a candidate instead of the negative, for least Ryan has more experience going into this race than Obama had when elected.

  • Do you think the powers that be want to position Ryan for a run in ’16?

  • Tim Suttle

    That’s a good question, I don’t know. But, the Republican just look so strong in 2016 even without Ryan. Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush – to name a few – all have better national brands than Ryan does and they come with less baggage.

  • scott stone

    I actually hesitate to respond but I’ve got to take a bite of the apple. One quick question. Why would Ryan hurt with seniors?

  • Tim Suttle

    Hey Scott, I hope you don’t feel like your response isn’t welcome 🙂 You can stick up for the choice. You know that I could be totally wrong. Romney’s internal numbers may be showing that all he needs to win is to make certain they get out their vote. If that’s the case, then it may have been a genius move. Ryan could also cut into two key demographics Obama has to have: Women & under 30 voters. I don’t think that is the case, but I’m sure they’ve got super-secret polling data that tells them way more than I see.

    On why Ryan would hurt w/seniors: I was thinking that Ryan’s budget was pretty unpopular with seniors. “”Opposition [to Ryan’s budget] is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare.”

  • scott stone

    Hi Tim,

    I’m trying my best these days not to get into political discussions. I’ve vowed not to watch Fox, MSNBC or CNN. Thank goodness for Satellite Radio (new obsession is WRN, World Radio Network and BBC). However, when the topic of Paul Ryan comes up it’s hard for me not to engage.

    I tend to be the devils advocate often, even if it is not a position I agree with. I like to push buttons and get people to think critically about issues. We live in a time when there are many important things to deal with and 30 second sound bites just won’t cut it.
    Politics is a passion of mine and I’ve been involved ever since I went to see Jimmy Carter campaign in Green Bay when I was 12 years old (there’s a geek for you). I like to think I have a pretty good grasp of not only the issues but solutions based upon sound policy. So…just for fun I’m going to disagree with your premise.

    I’m not going to disagree with all of your assumptions, just a few. The first being that Ryan does not help in the state of Wisconsin. Being a resident of Wisconsin I do have a bit of an advantage when it comes to testing the temperature of the electorate. You are mistaken in your analysis about Wisconsin having and unpopular governor. The exact opposite is the case. Scott Walker is quite popular and he actually won the recall by a larger margin than the original race. If you check the polls regarding the presidential race you will see that most pollsters have moved Wisconsin from the “leans democrat” to “toss-up”. Ryan has put Wisconsin in play.

    Turnout is vitally important in presidential elections. Turnout is based upon enthusiasm for a candidate and Paul Ryan helps to generate enthusiasm. Let’s be honest and admit that no matter what you think of Romney we all can agree that he is not the most enthusiastic candidate. I think that there are quite a few Republicans that probably would have sat on their hands and not voted in this election. They now have a ticket that they can be energized about.

    I do agree with you that he doesn’t bring any foreign policy experience to the ticket but that really doesn’t hurt their situation. People vote the top of the ticket anyway.

    What I really want to address is what picking Paul Ryan really does for this election cycle and I do think these are rather important. One element is serious and the other is a bit cynical on my part but I’d like to have anyone seriously argue where I am wrong.

    Point one is that with the selection of Paul we now have a serious race. Before the announcement we were treated to stories of Ann Romneys’s olympic horse and Mitt putting a dog on top of the car for a family vacation. Romney seemed content to say “I’m not Barack Obama” and hope that he’d be elected. There was very little substance to his campaign or that of the President. This election now becomes a choice election. There will be substantive policy discussions and the electorate will actually have clear differences.

    My cynical point is that with the selection of Paul Ryan and what is to come about in the campaign, we will have a validation of what conservatives have been saying about the media for so many years. There will be endless commercials about how Paul Ryan wants to take seniors medicare and medicaid away even though it doesn’t affect anyone over the age of 54. The Obama team knows this but that won’t matter. Many of these commercials will come right from their campaign. This will expose the false narrative that we were sold 4 years ago, that Obama was different. He was post-partisan, post-racial, like no other politician we’ve ever seen Remember he was “the one”. He was “God like”. The truth is that he is just another democrat politician. Just like Romney is just another Republican politician. I just wish that there was some accountability for the bill of goods we were sold by the press 4 years ago.

    I know you are adamantly opposed to Citizens United, which I greatly oppose myself. The thing is when you have mainstream media so in the tank for Obama, no amount of money generated from the super pacs can match the daily news cycle that slobbers all over the current president.

    Your previous post regarding Ryan was a lively discussion. You made the comment that 2 million people would be dumped from food stamps “immediately” by the implementation of the Ryan budget. I made a point of pasting the exact quote from the Ryan plan to correct your assumption. The thing is you must have read that or heard it from some source. Obviously that source of information was incorrect. People hear that Ryan is taking away seniors medicare, Ryan is going to dump people from food stamps, and they believe it. The reason they believe it is because it fits the template, It fits the narrative that conservatives are mean spirited, bigoted, homophobic racists. You heard that people were going to be immediately dumped from food stamps and you believed it. I’m curious as to why it was so easy for you believe something about someone you aren’t personally engaged with.

    I want an honest discussion regarding our politics. I view budgets as moral documents. But my starting point is, has the government been good stewards of what they already receive from us the tax payers. I may not like all that is in the Ryan plan but I do believe that he thinks Washington has not been good stewards in the past, by both parties.

  • Wabbit Hunter

    I think ya’ll missed it. Romney’s problem was with the Tea Party voters, as they are ALL well informed of his LIBERAL leadership in Massachusetts, thanks to the good folks at Mass Resistance. You needn’t believe me, look around the Tea Party and “honest conservative” forums. Since Gingrich successfully had Santorum evicted, they were in full steam mode looking for a third party candidate. But already, since this pick, that talk is all but gone. This pick was solely made in the hopes of staving off a three way that would have clearly reinstalled this radical anarchist squatter back in the Whitehouse with a mere 35-40 percent majority of chads, as opposed to him now, probably losing with less than 40 percent of the vote.
    Hence, from that aspect, it was the smartest pick he could have made.
    It’s rather bizarre how the Tea Party keeps growing, keeps winning, getting bigger in all ways, but are still, continually belittled as an insignificant factor? Even more laughable, the 99 percent crowd, (which actually only represents about a half a percent of the people, most of whom don’t even work) keeps being promulgated as, “something to reckon with?” This tells smarter and honest people just how deep the trouble is for the socialist party holding the senate and squatting in the Whitehouse. Unless some moron like Paul jumps in and splits the vote, Obama is about to experience the biggest incumbent loss, EVER. If he keeps screaming for ramped homosexualism (and I hope he does) it will utterly sink him.
    Let’s face it Christians. The more the Democrat/Socialists show their immoral, anti-God faces, especially the bigger and stronger the Tea Party gets?
    And to Les, – I have to say, your comment that the Romney Team, “aren’t interested AT ALL in working together to make this country better” if coming from a socialist’s claim, after watching how the fascists ramrodded LAWS down our throats, ignoring nearly 60 percent of the people’s will, is ludicrously supported. If what the socialists have done in Obama’s first and only term, is the way this thing labeled democrat party plans on operating, then they are soon doomed.
    I only hope the people wake up, and go ballistically right, enough to where our turn to ramrod, via pole vaulting, jumping, crawling, whatever we have to do, a WHOLE NEW REINSTATEMENT of the MORAL foundations that made this country the envy of the world for so long.
    I know one thing. My long time, liberal feminist mother and several other family members of the same flawed thinking, have all had a radical changes of heart after witnessing the fruit of their Obama – socialist votes. She/they, are all suddenly, becoming akin to “far right wingers.”
    Going out on a fragile but nurtured limb, I’ll go so far as to say, I think when it all comes out in the end, we’re going to see how disgustingly, and perhaps even illegally, the socialist media has been hiding many facts showing how badly the democrat party is being pummeled in present day polls?
    I have not heard from one person who knows anyone who’s thinking we need to give socialists any more time, or that they’re going to vote for Obama or whatever his name really is.

  • Tim Suttle

    Scott, thanks for articulating a different point of view. Nice work. I was hoping you would do that & I hope you are right about Ryan’s impact. It could move the conversation toward policy, which would benefit everyone. Although I don’t buy the media liberal-bias argument, I am always willing to consider that I buy into a narrative about conservatives. I’m sure it is true, to some extent, even though I’m trying not to buy into any narrative other than the gospel. Personally, I don’t feel like I belong in either political party. I don’t think there would be a huge difference if either candidate wins the election.

    The broader theme R’s believe they can win on is on stewardship of tax-payer’s money. I’m with Ryan and Romney on that one. But I am dubious about their approach (and I’m dubious about the D’s approach as well).

    There are three buckets: 1) taxes, 2) defense, and 3) entitlements. R’s want to lower taxes, raise defense spending, and cut entitlements. The D’s want to raise entitlements, raise taxes, and keep defense spending steady or slightly lower. I don’t like either approach.

    I think all three buckets have to give. Cut defense by 15%. Raise taxes on the wealthiest 1%, simplify tax codes, and close tax loopholes. Let’s do those first and then let’s talk about entitlements. My fundamental disagreement w/the Ryan budget is that he wants entitlements to bear the sole weight of change.

    I buy the argument against the welfare state. I buy the argument that government is too big. But if the U.S. government decides to balance the budget by cutting aid to the poor while we give billionaires tax cuts and continue to spend so much on defense. That just seems off to me.

    On your food stamps comment about my info being obviously incorrect, maybe I’m not understanding the issue, so check me on this. Ryan’s budget proposal would have cut federal aid in the form of food stamps over 10 years, right? The Wall Street Journal said yesterday that Ryan’s plan was to take food stamps back to the pre-2008 level, (you pointed out that this involves converting them into block grants for states to manage and index it to inflation). 28.2 million people received assistance in 2008, compared to 44.7 million in 2011. The cuts would take place over 10 years. Maybe it doesn’t begin to take effect until 2016, but the net effect is the same. Is that right? If that is accurate, then I’m not sure I’m buying into a false narrative. Plus it was my understanding the the people who would be dumped right away are the ones who don’t comply with some of the work/training requirements. I don’t want to go on bad information so keep me honest here.

    I have another question about converting it into block grants. In Kansas our governor sent back $31 million in federal assistance to begin to comply with the Affordable Care Act. What’s to say that he won’t just send back the SNAP money as well? Is that an option? Because I think our governor would do that in a snap (oh yea, i just made that terrible pun).

    Thanks again for commenting. I hope you’ll keep it coming.


  • I like the Ryan pick. I would have liked Rubio or even Condi also. I think that picking Ryan is very positive because it is going (hopefully) force a real conversation about debt, deficits and entitlements. Picking Ryan shows me that Romney is serious about those things, and not just picking somebody based on their skin color or geography. There is PLENTY of room for disagreement on those topics. But it is Ryan’s strength. He (hopefully) won’t back down or pander to people in trying to explain the serious financial condition we are in as a nation. And, yes, I think seniors are ready for a serious conversation about Medicare and Medicaid — they are tired of the scare tactics from the left for last 30 years. Ryan might just come across as the only adult on the ticket this November. Mistake? Not at all!

  • Tim Suttle

    “(CBS News) Despite conservative enthusiasm surrounding the announcement that Paul Ryan has been tapped as Mitt Romney’s presidential running mate, a new Gallup tracking poll shows that the presumptive GOP nominee has not benefited from any material bounce in its poll since the pick was made public.
    According to the survey, 47 percent of registered voters surveyed in the four day period following Romney’s announcement said they supported Romney, while 45 percent said they would vote for President Obama. In the four days prior to the announcment, 46 percent backed Romney and 45 percent backed Mr. Obama.

    Gallup suggests that Romney may get a delayed bounce, as his polling numbers were slightly better in the second half of the four-day period, but an August 13 Gallup poll reinforces the idea that Ryan’s pick got a tepid response from the American people.

    According to that poll, 39 percent of Americans said they thought Ryan was either “excellent” or “pretty good” as a VP choice, while 42 percent called the choice “only fair” or “poor.” Nineteen percent expressed no opinion.

    By contrast, 46 percent of voters called Sarah Palin an “excellent” or “pretty good” choice in 2008, and 46 percent said the same of Biden. Compared to recent vice presidential candidates, only Dan Quayle has scored higher than Ryan among those who believed him to be an “only fair” or “poor” VP pick.”

  • scott stone

    I too find no home in either party. I find both parties are devoid of quality solutions. It’s either that or they just don’t have the guts to take on their big money donors and make the tough choices. I feel like an anomaly in this left/right debate. I consider myself to be conservative (communitarian conservative) but have such a plethora of liberal positions. Universal health care, immigration reform, equal rights etc. I guess I like not being able to be put in a box. I just like pointing out the fallacy of some of the arguments and positions of others. I’m all about intellectually honest discussions about others opinions.
    I am in agreement with you that we need to cut defense, streamline and make the social safety net successful and I don’t have a problem with your position on raising taxes on the 1%. I do want to point out one thing about that though. You do know that raising the taxes on the rich won’t accomplish anything. Even according to the Obama administration raising these taxes will generate $80B per year over the next 10 years. That reduces the current fiscal deficit from $1.48T to $1.41T. I know it’s a popular idea, but we need to realize it is fairly ineffective at reducing the deficit.
    When I talk with others about this I always say that I don’t have a problem with it but I always want to examine the psychology behind it. We know that it really won’t help the budget mess we find ourselves in, but why is it so popular of an idea? It is not put forward to really have a substantial impact on the nation but to make others feel good that somebody else has to pay more. I call this psychological warfare by the left. Raising taxes on the “rich” won’t make my life any better but it sure will make me feel good to know that the President is sticking it to the rich guy. I actually find this a bit perverse.
    Like I said, I don’t have a problem with raising taxes, I actually think we are all a bit under taxed. I would like to see priorities put in place (how about a darn budget! We haven’t had one in over three years). We need some fiscal discipline and I think Ryan may be the guy that can at least generate a conversation.
    I know you don’t agree with me on my position regarding the media but I’d like you to refute anything I said in my previous comment. When Pew points out that 80% of journalists vote for the D’s, Houston we have a problem. They lean way to far left. I have one very recent example (and about another 100 like it). It has to do with Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A.
    Now I have no idea who this guy is. I don’t know his personal situation or his beliefs other than what was a firestorm in the media lately. The most I know about Chick-fil-A is that I’ll have a sandwich this weekend when I bring my daughter back to Belmont University in Nashville . We don’t have any in Wisconsin and though I made a vow not to eat fast food and usually eat quite healthy, I can’t pass up one of their sandwiches. They are darn good! We all know the media coverage of what he said. Here is the thing. Until 6 months ago his position was the same as President Obama’s. I could elaborate but I bet you get the point.



  • Tim Suttle

    Scott, for brevity I just put the taxing 1%. Here’s what I actually think. Raising taxes on the uber-rich will have a tremendous impacts if it isn’t just a straight income tax: raise income taxes on top 1-2%, raise capital gains taxes, close most if not all tax loopholes, and drastically simplify the tax code. The tax code needs to be changed until it actually accomplishes what needs to be done. The goal of these sort of taxes is to make sure that wealth doesn’t concentrate in the hands of a very few, very rich people. If wealth does continue to concentrate in the hands of the wealthy it will destabilize the society.

    Okay, here’s one way to refute the media bias argument. “A study of ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News in the year 2001 shows that 92 percent of all U.S. sources interviewed were white, 85 percent were male and, where party affiliation was identifiable, 75 percent were Republican.”

  • Tim Suttle

    The same site says that the real problems with the media are:

    Corporate Ownership
    Advertiser Influence
    Official Agendas
    Telecommunications Policy
    The PR Industry
    Pressure Groups
    The Narrow Range of Debate

    These all actually seem to make some sense to me. I would add in John Stewart’s critique that the 24 hour news cycle of cable new networks drives much of the craziness.

  • Scott Stone

    I’m being a bit sarcastic but did you just cite FAIR? Makes me want to use Limbaugh for quotes. C’mon now!
    One quick question. What do you think cap gains tax rate should be?