The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

What VP candidate Paul Ryan says about Romney

Republican+vice+presidential+candidate+Paul+Ryan+of+Wisconsin%2C+left%2C+and+Republican+presidential+candidate+Mitt+Romney+wave+to+the+crowd+at+the+Waukesha+County+Expo+Center+on+Sunday+in+Waukesha%2C+Wis.
MCT Campus
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, left, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wave to the crowd at the Waukesha County Expo Center on Sunday in Waukesha, Wis.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, left, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wave to the crowd at the Waukesha County Expo Center on Sunday in Waukesha, Wis. (MCT Campus)

To those who know me, it is no secret that Romney was far from my first choice in the primaries. In picking Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice president, Romney assuaged my doubts about his candidacy.

Like many others, my main concern was that Romney’s political positions seemed not to come from a core set of values he held, but rather from a combination of poll testing, pandering and opportunism. Running for president just for the sake of being president, not with any intent to solve the long standing issues that we have as a country.

On top of that, he seemed genuinely surprised that his wealth would be an electoral issue, completely caught off guard by his “$10,000 bet” gaffe and calls for his tax returns to be released during the debates.

After he won the nomination, I grudgingly accepted that he was the man I would vote for in November, and hoped that he would pick a vice president that would excite me and other conservatives, but I wasn’t very optimistic about this, as it seemed to go against everything I knew about Gov. Etch-a-Sketch. As I made known to everyone who asked and many who didn’t, I was hoping for Vice President Paul Ryan.

I watched with bated breath as the short list became shorter. The man I idolize continued to advance in the rounds, eventually reaching the final three, along with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who was perhaps as boring and cautious as Romney himself, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was too timid to stand behind his statement about “Obamneycare” when he got a chance to say it to Romney’s face in a debate.

I would have understood why Romney chose Portman or Pawlenty, but I wouldn’t have been particularly excited about the prospect of casting my first presidential vote for them. I also thought of them as infinitely more likely than Paul Ryan, as he seemed like the token conservative, put there simply so that Romney could say that he was on the short list.
When I heard it was leaked to NBC late Friday night that Ryan would be the pick, I was in disbelief. To some extent, I still am. The pick completely changed both the dynamic of the race and my opinion of Romney.

I had viewed Romney, even after coming to terms with him as the nominee, as a bit of a one-trick pony, only able to talk about the sorry state of the private sector economy. If it improved, he’d be without a campaign message entirely. By picking Ryan, he not only reinforced his message about the private sector economy, but also tapped someone who is perhaps the most eloquent speaker in D.C. on the topic of the public sector economy, entitlement reform and the crushing debt crisis. Romney had been neutered on the healthcare issue, unable to criticize Obama for a healthcare plan that was virtually identical to the one he passed in Massachusetts.

Through choosing Ryan, he opened up a new line of attack on the healthcare law, specifically on its $700 billion in Medicare cuts, which Ryan can attack as weakening an already weak system, while proposing his own plan to save the beloved program.

Further, Romney proved that he doesn’t want to get elected for the sake of being president, but rather with specific policy goals in mind. Paul Ryan is not the choice that an ambitious politician makes for Vice President, as he won’t necessarily make the race easier to win for Romney, at least not in as clear or obvious a way as someone like Marco Rubio or Rob Portman would have.

Paul Ryan might be able to help in his increasingly swingy home state of Wisconsin, but thats far from a sure thing and even if it were, it would likely come at the expense of some votes in the much more important swing state of Florida, where the “Mediscare” attacks would likely be quite effective. Paul Ryan’s strength is in explaining and implementing controversial reforms to the government economy, not electoral math.

Romney’s supporters, surrogates, and others all seemed to be of the well-connected, establishment type, often disdainful of conservative populists. A prominent donor of his used the possibility of a brokered convention offering a Palin/Huckabee ticket as a doomsday scenario if Romney didn’t clinch the race. To most of the Republican party, that would hardly be a doomsday scenario, but actually something to rejoice in.

The Ryan pick makes it clear that even if his advisors and donors don’t, Romney does understand and feel at home within the conservative base, which is a great relief to those in the Republican party who felt uncomfortable with Romney’s nomination.

Finally, even if Vice President Paul Ryan does cause Romney to lose, at least Romney showed the courage to go down fighting, and to make a pick that would at long last get the American public that sobering national conversation on entitlement reform, which is already at least ten years overdue.

That conversation alone is a huge step in the right direction, and that Romney knows this is what reassured me that we ultimately did pick the right guy in the primaries, and that he would in fact do what needs to be done if he were elected.

Tucker is a junior majoring in political science, economics and public policy.

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