On Saturday, Mitt Romney announced that his pick for vice president will be Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is relatively unknown to Americans on a national scale. A recent CNN poll cites that 46 percent of the country is familiar with Ryan via his famous or infamous budget plan.
No question, Ryan has a firm vision for the country and the federal budget in particular. His plan proposes ominously ambiguous modifications to social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which millions of Americans, whether Democrat, Republican or other, have grown to depend on and look forward to.
Almost immediately, Romney attempted to distance himself from the controversial Ryan Budget, which is futile in light of the numerous occasions he advocated it. At a campaign event less than six months ago, Romney declared, "I'm very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It's a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it's very much consistent with what I put out earlier."
But the controversy surrounding Ryan's budget has Romney backing off, insisting that he will be coming up with a federal budget of his own. But can a candidate for president successfully distance himself from the ideologies of his own ticket? And furthermore, who among us will believe it?
It's only a matter of time before the conservative pundits come forth to support Romney in a desperate appeal to Independents and elderly voters, perpetuating the idea that just because Ryan is the Vice President-to-be, doesn't mean Romney has irrevocably given the "OK" to Ryan's plan.
And it will come as no surprise if some of these pundits turn out to be the very voices that criticized President Obama for distancing himself from the likes of Reverend Wright and William Ayers. But one could argue, at the very least, that between Obama distancing himself from his former pastor and Romney from his own veep nominee, there isn't much of a difference, aside from the fact that Obama wasn't running for President with his object of aversion whereas Romney is.
Minus the starkly conservative budget proposal, Ryan's political career is lacking in other areas, including minimal-to-non-existent foreign policy experience, the fact that he's never ran for a statewide office before. Also, like Obama, he has little background in the private sector -- a weakness that Romney has repeatedly asserted should be enough to disqualify an individual for presidency.
So while he seems to be an honorable husband, father, and dedicated Congressman, no offense to Ryan, but why pick him if not for his budget proposals?
Senator John McCain won't say it, but the first premise of choosing Sarah Palin for VP back in 2008 was an attempt to shore up the women's vote, reaching out to a demographic that largely leaned towards Obama.
All Paul Ryan does is further energize a Republican base that may or may not have been fully sold on whether Romney is a "true conservative;" if that was the point, then hats off to the Romney campaign. However, the anti-Obama sentiment is so prominent among said base, they really didn't need any more convincing.
It's the Independents, the black, latino, and gay communities, and the female vote that he should be appealing to, now more than ever, as time is running out.
To win this election, Romney needs to present policies that speak to voters who are unlike him instead of those that further alienate them. Because no matter how far left some centrist voters perceive Barack Obama to be, the far right ticket that Romney is now offering is not their desired solution.
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