Mitt Romney’s choice of Republican Congressman and budget guru Paul Ryan as his running mate has profoundly altered the presidential race. In selecting the wonkish, articulate Ryan, Mitt Romney has enhanced his campaign, and thereby his chances of winning the presidency, by arming the GOP ticket with an eloquent mouthpiece whose bold policy prescriptions strengthen Romney’s campaign with a reform-minded seriousness the Obama-Biden ticket simply cannot match.
Not surprisingly, even though Ryan has been Romney’s running mate for less than a week, the polls already reflect Americans’ buoyed confidence in the Romney-Ryan combo. Both Gallup and Rasmussen had Romney up by two in polls released days after Ryan’s announcement. Romney has also gained ground in some key swing state polls.
From a policy standpoint, the Ryan choice resolved all questions regarding Romney’s positions on the most important issues (economic) this election. By choosing Ryan, Romney has unabashedly affiliated himself with the reform wing of the GOP, put to rest any lingering doubts about his conservative bona fides, and appropriated for his cause a man whose bold ideas and able public defense of them call to mind the party’s best days when good policy intersected with good politics, e.g. Reagan’s defense buildup, 1990s welfare reform, Bush’s tax cuts, etc.
Importantly, on a broader political level, Romney’s choice ensures 2012 will not be a repeat of 2008, when a lack of planning and serious forethought gave way to a shotgun Republican vice presidential selection based not on policy substance or fitness for office, but on an urgent need to reinvigorate a lackluster campaign. The results speak for themselves.
In complete contrast here, after prevailing in the Republican primaries and polling evenly with Obama even before choosing Ryan, Romney chose Ryan from a position of surging political strength. And by choosing Ryan, the Romney campaign has fueled the momentum it gained from the primaries, and it is now poised to build on that strength towards the general election. Indeed, watching the energetic, youthful Ryan campaign in Colorado following his selection reveals just how much heft the campaign has gained in just a short period of time. His smile and charisma call to mind a great Democratic politician who captured the affections of a generation, and we do not mean President Obama.