We're now learning Mitt Romney's decision to name U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate was his and his alone … that his advisers preferred a safer choice—former Gov. Tim Pawlenty or Sen. Rob Portman.
But if the huge crowds that have swarmed the ticket since the announcement Saturday morning are any indication, Romney again has been right to trust his own instincts.
It had become apparent in recent weeks he wasn't going to defeat President Obama without bold action. His poll numbers had slipped, and he'd lost control in key battleground states. He had a choice—play it safe and keep it close, or go bold and try to turn the tables. He chose correctly.
The pick shows this campaign will be about big ideas, which is not what Democrats wanted. It will be a "choice" election—voters will be asked to choose between a government that makes decisions for them and one that places individual liberty at the center of our national conversation.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report
Let’s be honest, Mitt Romney was sliding in the polls and he was not going to win this election if he continued to play small ball politics on the campaign trail.
Paul Ryan may be a “risky” pick as VP, but it was a bold and necessary selection. By refusing to play it safe, Romney has the opportunity to turn the tables on President Obama and make this election about “big” ideas and a choice about the role of the federal government going forward.
The Romney-Ryan ticket must significantly outperform McCain-Palin with respect to white working-class voters, retain their edge with seniors and narrow the current gap with female voters. If they can do that and win Florida, Ohio and Virginia, they will win the White House. If not, America better brace for four more years of Obama.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"
Beacon Hill Democrats are launching themselves across battleground states as attack dogs for President Obama, on a mission to tell undecided voters all about GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s faults and failures, but Republicans say the liberal naysayers are wasting their time — swing states won’t buy that blue state shtick.
Riding a Democratic bus down the Atlantic Seaboard from Virginia to Florida this weekend on the Romney Economics: The Middle Class Under the Bus tour, state Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) and Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, a former state representative, told local crowds that Romney turned his back on average Bay Staters when he was governor. State Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere) flew into Washington, D.C., to catch the bus to Virginia and North Carolina.
The bus serves as a sort of anti-Mitt advance team, hitting states a day ahead of Romney and running mate Paul Ryan. The Democrats cruised through Virginia on Friday and North Carolina on Saturday, moving on to Florida yesterday. State Rep. Martha M. Walz (D-Boston) will board a bus in Ohio today — 24 hours before Romney and Ryan arrive.
“In general, it’s something people are going to shrug off,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said about the tour. “We’re at the stage now where records aren’t as important as Romney and Ryan being able to tell people what they’re going to be able to do over the next four years. Voters know the blame game.”
Read more from Chris Cassidy at the Boston Herald
From The Rothenberg Political Report:
Right now, control of the Senate appears to rest on the outcomes in five states - four of them held by Democrats - Montana, North Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin - and one of them by a Republican - Massachusetts.
Assuming that Republicans take the Nebraska and Missouri Senate seats and Democrats finally win back a Senate seat in Maine, the GOP will need to win four of the five seats that will decide control of the Senate for two more years.
Other seats certainly could be in the mix - Florida and Nevada look the most likely - but the five states now seem to be the most likely to determine control. And strategists on both sides of the aisle have a harder time imagining Ohio, New Mexico, Hawaii, Indiana or Arizona flipping parties, though those states certainly are worth watching as some of the underdog candidates in those states are running strong races in generally unfriendly territory.
The presidential contest could well determine control of the Senate.
If swing voters turn to Romney in the final weeks of the campaign, they could also turn to George Allen in Virginia, Denny Rehberg in Montana and Berg in North Dakota, improving the GOP's chances of netting the three seats they need if Romney wins the White House. But if Romney fades, it is more difficult to imagine Virginia and Wisconsin voting for Obama for president and for a Republican for the Senate.
Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate indicates the presumptive GOP nominee sees his path to victory running through the Midwest, political experts said Saturday.
And the selection of the House Budget Committee chairman also addresses two nagging concerns for the Romney campaign: the tepid support among influential conservatives and the need to shake up a presidential race that polls show favor President Obama.
But the main focus on Saturday was the electoral math.
Several Republican strategists heralded the move for making Romney's campaign more viable in Wisconsin, a moderate state that has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every contest since Ronald Reagan's re-election.
"He has a blue collar background and shares basic midwestern values," says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. "The fact is, blue collar voters broke for Obama at a record level in 2008, and Romney is going to have to improve on those numbers — especially since I don't think the campaign sees a lot of room to expand in the Southwest — if he is going to win this election."
Nor is the next GOP vice presidential nominee's appeal limited solely to the Upper Midwest. Political watchers suggested that Ryan's libertarian streak and small government philosophies could boost Romney in New Hampshire, whose four electoral votes could possibly prove decisive in November.
"I'm willing to bet his emphasis on free enterprise and personal responsibility would endear him to the voters there," said O'Connell.
In fact, Ryan's selection was in many ways a tacit admission that the Romney campaign needed to shake up a race and figure out a way to draw new attention to the Republican ticket. Rather than choosing from the safe and mild-mannered options Romney reportedly preferred early in the process, the campaign went for a pick that would change the dynamics.
"The overall sense was that they were sliding in the polls, and while this pick comes with some risk, they thought a bold pick was necessary," said O'Connell. "They wanted to stop talking about tax returns and Bain Capital and find someone who was a little more electrifying."
A Pew Research survey released earlier this year showed the greatest opposition to Ryan's Medicare plan come from those age 50 and older, with 51 percent saying they opposed the proposal and just 29 percent favoring it. Furthermore, those more than 50 years old were the most likely to have "heard a lot" about Ryan's plan.
"The onus is really going to be on Paul Ryan to use his knowledge of complex financial matters and his ability to communicate them in a cogent way to explain his plan," said O'Connell. "Otherwise, Mitt Romney is going to have to try to win Florida on his own."
Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill
Mitt Romney on Saturday announced U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate for the White House -- a bold and risky move that energized both conservatives and their opponents.
Ryan is a rising Republican star and the party's leader on fiscal and budget issues.
He is the architect of a Republican spending plan that would overhaul many entitlement programs, making him a favorite of conservatives, whose support for Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been shaky.
But the Romney camp was also quick to put some distance between Ryan's initial budget blueprint and his own.
"Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget," the campaign said, "and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance."
His running mate choice draws some clear lines with Romney's Democratic opponents over the size of the cuts in Ryan's plan and his prior votes on taxes, which they say favor the wealthiest Americans -- a point of contention in an election in which both sides consider themselves champions of the middle class.
While some analysts saw Romney's choice as risky, others thought Romney had to go big.
"With Mitt Romney losing ground to President Obama in the polls, I don't see the selection of Paul Ryan as 'risky,' I see the choice as bold and necessary," Republican consultant Ford O'Connell told CNN.
Read more at CNN
In choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has gone bold – and risky.
Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin is more than just the young, articulate chairman of the House Budget Committee. He is the author of a controversial budget proposal that would reduce taxes, cut government spending, and limit the growth of entitlements. Most controversially, he would turn Medicare, the government’s health-insurance program for seniors, into a voucher-like system, and Medicaid, health care for the poor, into block grants to the states.
Conservatives applaud the seven-term congressman as the intellectual leader of the Republican Party, a thinker with a vision for America’s unsustainable fiscal future. Liberals see Ryan as an ideologue who would destroy the nation’s social safety net, ready to throw Grandma off a cliff.
“While Ryan may be young, he is experienced and as House Budget chair he has a fiscal focus for the future,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “His knowledge of complex economic matters and his ability to articulate them in a cogent way should help Romney make the case that the ticket is serious about getting America’s fiscal house in order and making America more competitive in the global economy.”
Mr. O’Connell adds that as independents learn more about Ryan, they will see his choice as a window into how Romney would analyze issues and tackle problems. But he acknowledges Romney’s risk, that Team Obama now has an opportunity to make the campaign a fight over entitlements.
Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor
If Mitt Romney wins Florida, Ohio and Virginia + either - Iowa, Colorado or New Hampshire, he will be the next president of the United States. But right now, he is losing ground in the battle for the White House. From NBC's FirstRead:
The Olympics are wrapping up and, at the end of July, when the Olympics began, we wrote that we were basically at halftime of the general election -- and Obama had a narrow lead. Well, it’s a little bigger than that now. (People may want to quibble, but you can’t dismiss every poll on sampling.) There’s clearly movement toward the president and clearly problems for Romney personally. We had found it in our polling for the last month and it hadn’t shown up everywhere yet. Now it has. The latest evidence: three new polls out today – from CNN, Fox, and Reuters/Ipsos – all showing President Obama leading Romney by seven points or more and at or near 50%. (CNN 52-45%, Fox 49-40%, Reuters/Ipsos 49-42%). What’s more, Romney continues to have an image problem. In CNN, Obama’s fav/unfav is +14, Romney’s -1. And in Fox, Obama’s +12, Romney’s +1. (Ipsos didn’t ask fav/unfav.)
What does this mean aside from how the playing field has shifted in the last two weeks? All this raises the stakes for Romney’s VP pick and convention. We’ve said August is important for Romney to make a move, and that’s even truer now. He enters what could be the final week of VP speculation. We’re in any-day mode with his running mate selection. And he’s at a point where the running-mate selection, which will change the subject from whatever’s being talked about, is going to be made when Romney’s behind, making it more defining than perhaps he ever wanted it to be. The conventional wisdom had been that Romney was going to be picking a running mate in a coin-flip race. Well that’s not the case now. How does that change his mind? Does it help Paul Ryan? Does Romney go outside the short list and go somewhere else (Rubio, Christie?). The bottom line is in just three weeks, he was going to be picking his running mate from a position of strength (and perhaps that favored a guy like Tim Pawlenty, meaning he could pick a partner and a friend). Now, he’s picking one from a position of weakness.
Ohio roots are a major Portman asset, and there are other plusses:
• A packed, impressive resume. an aide in the George H.W. Bush White House, service in the House of Representatives, U.S. trade representative and budget director in the George W. Bush administration and now the Senate.
• Foreign policy and national security experience.
• A reputation as a pragmatic conservative and respect from his Democratic colleagues.
• A statewide win in a major battleground state.
Some potential Portman downsides?
• Bush baggage -- President Bush left office unpopular among independents, and Democrats blame Bush policies for the depth of the recession.
• The flipside of an impressive Washington resume dating back some 20 years is this unflattering label: Washington insider.
• The bland rap.
• Polling data showing that despite his big 2010 Senate win, many Ohioans know little about their junior senator.
From CNN's John King:
So the plus side?
• Blue-collar roots
• A Catholic-turned-evangelical Protestant comfortable talking about his faith.
• A GOP governor from a blue state who had to do business with Democrats.
• A record holding the line on government spending.
• No Washington baggage.
"He's interesting. He's funny. He is thoughtful and he is measured," Weaver said. "He is great with people. He is authentic. I think it's probably the best reason why he would be a terrific vice president."
And the downside?
• No Washington baggage also means no Washington experience, including on major national security issues.
• He never cracked 50% in either of his gubernatorial wins, and even his friends say it is doubtful picking Pawlenty would put Minnesota in play this fall.
• His 2012 presidential run sputtered quickly.
• Even some conservative fans say there is no signature Pawlenty achievement that would bring something unique to the ticket. The governor's Democratic critics say that is because his trademark is caution born of ambition.