Paul Ryan conducted an on-the-record conference call with conservative media outlets this afternoon, during which he explained how he sees the race shaping up and took roughly half-a-dozen questions. Townhall was part of the conversation. A few notable points:
On polls and enthusiasm - The Vice Presidential nominee said that following the DNC and President Obama's poll bounce, much of the chattering class began to prematurely declare the campaign over. "We're not going to bend to Beltway group-think," he said, adding that Obama's bump has receded. "That sugar high has evaporated, and the next eight weeks will be a battle of ideas." Ryan likened the passion and intensity he's witnessing on the campaign trail to what he saw during the recall battle in Wisconsin, when voters understood the high stakes and turned out for Governor Walker and other conservative candidates. He said he's hearing from independents and Democrats who say they won't repeat their mistake of four years ago by voting for Obama.
On the campaign's goals - The Romney/Ryan ticket wants voters to know "exactly what we believe and exactly what we'll do." This relies on bringing an aggressive and clear message to voters, he said, adding that winning "by default" isn't appealing. "We want to earn and deserve victory," Ryan said, so the new administration would have the "moral authority to do what it takes to turn this thing around" and avoid America being "sucked into a welfare state with a debt crisis."
On foreign policy and national security - Asked if he's felt comfortable as the campaign has taken a sharp turn away from the economy because of world events, Ryan was confident. "I may not be known for foreign policy, but I've delved into [these issues] for years. Ever since 9/11, I saw it as an obligation to get deep into foreign policy." Ryan cited his 14-year Congressional career and numerous trips abroad -- "most" of which were to the Middle East -- as elements of his chops beyond his wheelhouse of budgets and economics. Of the current crisis, Ryan was critical of President Obama's policies and posture. "What we're seeing now ares the results of the projection of weakness abroad. When you create a vacuum, bad actors fill [that void]," he said. Tying US security to budgetary issues, Ryan castigated the president's $1 trillion in proposed defense cuts, between the sequestration process and Obama's budget. He noted that the only area where Obama supports net federal spending cuts is to our military.
On the Obama campaign and the media - Ryan coined a new verb: "Narrativizing," which he says describes the left-leaning media's tendency to echo the Obama line and create false narratives to damage Republicans. He said it's his ticket's responsibility to go over the heads of the mainstream media and talk directly to voters. As for the Obama campaign, "they're going to do everything they can to distract distort," he said. "Our burden is to reveal the facts and the truth, their burden is to obfuscate and hide the truth. I like our burden better than theirs." Sticking with the truth theme, he asserted "we have no better asset in this campaign than the facts." Ryan said that despite a full summer and tens of millions of dollar in negative ads "carpet bombing" Mitt Romney, "we're still tied." He suggested that finally unlocking Romney's substantial general election funds will help the campaign fight back in earnest. "Now that we can deploy all of our campaign assets, I feel really good about our chances," he said.