Advertisement
Politics

Is Ryan the Right Choice for Romney?

The vice presidential pick is a bold one, but the risks may outweigh the rewards.

No doubt about it, by picking House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has put the conservative choir squarely in his corner.

The bigger question, though -- the one that will determine whether Romney moves into the White House next Jan. 20 -- is whether Ryan will help the former Massachusetts governor grab enough of the crowd that worships only sporadically in the GOP church.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Consider the impact of independents. Registration numbers suggest that Romney can't win the presidency without a sizable share of those in the political middle. So from that standpoint, choosing Ryan is curious and something of a roll of the dice.

To be sure, Ryan is intelligent, charismatic and photogenic. And no one will doubt his conservative credentials. He'll help sharpen the attack on the federal government's budget deficits and will be an effective attack dog for Romney. But you can bet the ranch that both President Obama's handlers and Democratic-leaning interest groups are already working on a strategy to portray Ryan as an enemy of the poor and the elderly.

TV ads in that vein will go hand-in-hand with Team Obama's message that Romney is making the presidential contest a battle between the haves and the have-nots.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The fodder for Democrats' attack? Ryan dared to put Medicare, Medicaid and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Social Security in play when he outlined his budget and deficit-slashing plan.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Nearly every serious student of the government's red ink problem acknowledges that entitlement programs need to be reformed. And nearly every politician ignores that reality because talking about cuts in those programs is frequently political suicide.

Give Ryan credit for not ducking the issue. But because he rules out raising taxes or other revenues as part of deficit reduction, and because Republicans are skittish about cutting defense spending, he and Romney are vulnerable to accusations that they intend to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the elderly while preserving tax cuts for the rich and fat government contracts for giant defense companies.

That won't be an entirely fair attack. They never are, from either side. But if the ads stick, Romney will be in a big-time bind, particularly since it has become clear in recent weeks that Romney is already in trouble with independents. His path to the 270 electoral votes necessary to send Obama into early retirement is steep.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Ryan's name on the ballot should help Romney in Wisconsin and New Hampshire, which had been leaning in Obama's direction. But, for the most part, Ryan's candidacy will bring out more tea party support for Romney in states where the former Massachusetts governor is already expected to win. That'll help in the nationwide popular vote, but not in delivering all-important electoral votes.

Worse, Ryan might make it more difficult for Romney to carry Florida. The GOP candidate was already an underdog there, based on recent polling. He may not be able to recover if Democrats can scare the state's large bloc of elderly voters about Social Security and Medicare.

And without Florida, it's difficult to see how Romney gets to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Romney can still win, but he and Ryan will need to quickly find a strategy that placates older folks and appeals to independent voters in states such as Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Picking Ryan was a bold move. But the risks might outpace the rewards.

Advertisement

Most Popular

2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays
Markets

2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays

Is the market open today? Take a look at which holidays the stock markets and bond markets take off in 2020.
July 1, 2020
What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?
tax brackets

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?

The IRS unveiled the 2020 tax brackets, and it's never too early to start planning to minimize your future tax bill.
June 20, 2020
Searching for the Perfect Place to Retire
Empty Nesters

Searching for the Perfect Place to Retire

We home in on two places with less traffic and lower costs. 
July 2, 2020

Recommended

Travel Planning in the Time of Coronavirus
business

Travel Planning in the Time of Coronavirus

Insurance may not cover canceled vacations, but airlines and hotels may be flexible.
June 11, 2020
13 Things That May Soon Disappear Forever (The Pandemic Edition)
business

13 Things That May Soon Disappear Forever (The Pandemic Edition)

Emerging technologies (and now the COVID-19 pandemic) are putting an end to these familiar items and practices.
June 9, 2020
Don't Let the Drama Surrounding PPP Distract You from Running Your Business
business

Don't Let the Drama Surrounding PPP Distract You from Running Your Business

If you're so wrapped up in worry about your Paycheck Protection Program loan not being forgiven, think about the worst-case scenario. It might not be …
June 5, 2020
Another Epidemic to Worry About: Identity Theft
business

Another Epidemic to Worry About: Identity Theft

Fraud losses grew in 2019 and are likely to increase in 2020.
June 5, 2020