The L.A. Times leads with the article "Romney's choice of Ryan pleases both left and right" and adds "For President Obama and fellow Democrats, the pick offered a way to divert focus from the president's record on jobs and the economy to the Republican effort to alter Medicare and domestic programs."
Democrats took to the airwaves yesterday announcing how "thrilled" they were that Romney had chosen Paul Ryan to be his running-mate, calling him "radical" and "tea party" and "extreme." Obviously, Democrats would have claimed to be happy no matter who Romney picked. You don't let your opponent know when you are worried. But in the days leading up to the announcement, Pawlenty and Portman were seemingly pushed by everyone without an "R" attached to their names. They were called "safe" and "smart" and "capable" and, yes, "white and boring" too. Obviously, while all of that is true, either choice would have been a pretty big downer for conservatives. In an election where excitement and turnout is key, how would either choice have been a great pick? So, are Democrats actually serious? Let's take a look...
1. Turnout, turnout, turnout. As I hinted, this election is about turnout and enthusiasm. Republicans, conservatives, and tea party patriots were already much more enthused about voting out Obama than Obama's supporters were about keeping him in office. But, they weren't necessarily crazy about Romney. They like Paul Ryan. A lot. The GOP is trying to keep the momentum going from the 2010 tea party revolution while the Democrats are trying to find their 2008 magic. Ryan helps the GOP ticket in that regard, and the Dems are saying it will help their base enthusiasm, but is it true? The Democrats problem is getting a group of people who normally don't vote or who gave Obama a shot excited about Obama again. If Obama being Obama doesn't get his former supporters excited, it's doubtful that a low-key congressman from Wisconsin will drive the vote for Obama.
2. "Now we get to talk about Medicare!" Democrats are saying that, with Paul Ryan, they get to talk about how Ryan wants to push grandma over the cliff in a wheelchair. The 55+ segment is one of the Republicans core voting groups, and the Obama camp is hoping to use Ryan's budget and reforms plans against him. But the big problem here is the older generations are among the most informed and are much less likely to be swayed by 30-second television ads meant to terrify them. These people have a lot of time on their hands, and Republicans are counting on them honestly assessing what both sides offer. Also, there is little to suggest Democrats want a serious discussion on the debt, entitlement reforms, taxes, or Obamacare.
3. Ryan is not a radical. The Democrats biggest problem with Ryan is that he is, quite simply, not a radical. He voted for Medicare Part D, so it's hard to argue he hates seniors. He vote for the auto bailouts, which Obama has touted as having saved the auto industry. He voted for TARP. This isn't to suggest that Ryan is a moderate, but he has supported things in the past he felt was necessary, even-though he might not necessarily have wanted to. He worked with liberal US Senator Ron Wyden to come up with a bi-partisan solution to reform and save Medicare. Ryan doesn't take to the house floor to give over-the-top and highly rhetorical and ego-driven speeches. He is calm. He is fact-centered. He creates economic charts and produces videos around them for fun. He simply is not a radical. He is the most serious politician in Washington, D.C., however.
4. Ryan is a Fact Machine. Whatever arguments Democrats say they can now use against Romney-Ryan they were going to use anyway. Romney had already embraced the Ryan reforms. But the problem for Democrats is Paul Ryan is incredibly gifted at framing the argument and is equipped with every possible statistic and data point needed to argue and dismantle his opponents' arguments. He speaks with passion and knowledge. he has already gone head-to-head with Obama in a performance that likely convinced Romney that Ryan was his guy. If you are a Democrat, why would you be excited to have the most knowledgeable and capable person on the voters' top issue as your opponent? And his one prime-time debate will be against Joe Biden, a gaffe-tastic machine who isn't exactly known for having a great deal of knowledge on, well, much.
5. He's an all-American guy. Ryan is clean cut. He has an adorable family. He's like a cute little puppy. A cute little puppy that gets really excited about economics, the federal debt, spending, and welfare reforms. He doesn't have an accent like George W. Bush or Sarah Palin that apparently automatically qualifies you as "stupid." He knows what he is talking about and, more importantly he knows how to explain what he knows.
More Reading: John Fund at National Review Online also says smart Democrats should be worried, noting that "if Ryan is an extremist and his proposals are so unpopular, how has he won election seven times in a Democratic district? His lowest share of the vote was 57 percent -- in his first race. He routinely wins over two-thirds of the vote. When Obama swept the nation in 2008, he carried Ryan's district by four points. But at the same time, Ryan won reelection with 65 percent of the vote, meaning that a fifth of Obama voters also voted for him."