OK, can we all calm down now?
Within the space of a few hours, Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan for Vice President has changed the entire tenor of the campaign, and revealed about both presidential candidates what really should have been obvious before:
Romney is a calm, serious, principled, methodical man, who does not make rash decisions, does not lash out, and who does precisely what he sets out to do. This is the same man who could come in and clean up the Olympics, who could take failing businesses and make every reasonable effort to save them (and, despite what the Obama campaign would have us believe, often did). Nor does Romney resort to reactionary and false accusations, strident claims, or ad hominem attacks.
When the Obama campaign launched its deceptive ads over the past couple of weeks, conservatives complained that Romney wasn’t hitting back hard enough, wasn’t taking control of the narrative. They warned that this campaign would be shades of McCain in 2008 all over again. Commentators like Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter were practically sputtering. Even the usually calm Charles Krauthammer intoned ominously about the advertisements’ impact. All this despite pointed, timely, and well-crafted advertisements by Romney’s campaign.
What a difference a day makes.
By virtue of Ryan’s presence on the ticket, the focus will be on the economy – which is precisely where Romney wants it. Ryan’s youthful vitality will not be able to be successfully attacked as lack of experience, as he has spent 14 years in Congress, and is easily the most recognized expert on budget and fiscal matters in the House. Romney will obtain (and indeed has already obtained) endorsements from other key Republicans, including many who were considered candidates for the vice-presidential spot.
Ryan is a devout Catholic. He is legitimately conservative, much to the relief of the Tea Party. Ryan has a reputation for being professional and approachable. He is by all accounts an extremely effective communicator, capable of messaging the importance of Medicare and health care reform to myriad constituencies that the Obama campaign was (is?) sure they had locked up, including working class Americans and seniors.
Laura Hollis is an Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches entrepreneurship and business law. She is the author of the forthcoming publication, “Start Up, Screw Up, Scale Up: What Government Can Learn From the Best Entrepreneurs,” © 2014. Her opinions are her own, and do not reflect the position of the university. Follow her on Twitter: @LauraHollis61.