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The Race to Define Rep. Paul Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan has been chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate. The success or failure of the Romney 2012 campaign may come down to how Ryan is perceived by American voters.

As was the case in 2008, the left, moderates, and some on the right will vilify the VP candidate. The socially-conservative Sarah Palin took the brunt of the blame for the McCain loss in the previous election although the campaign and McCain himself were far more the issue.

In this election, there is a fiscally-conservative VP choice – the sharks are circling. Should the Romney-Ryan ticket lose, no future GOP candidate will choose anyone associated with the TEA Party or strong Conservative values again. Two losses with TEA Party favorites as running-mates will serve to moderate the GOP even further making it impossible to tell the difference between the GOP ticket and the DNC ticket in future elections.

The Romney-Ryan ticket does dump some much-needed electricity into the previously flat Romney run. Ryan is a lightning rod for criticism and accolades. The Saturday morning news is full of both signaling a more-exciting race for Americans to watch.

The left is bringing back “right-wing social engineering” in reference to the Ryan budget plan. Labelling Rep. Ryan as the enemy to seniors and women, liberals are elated at the VP pick and Americans won’t have to wait very long to see granny going over the cliff again. Aptly applying a Conservative tag to Ryan then showing him as a monster will be the order of the day for Democrat pundits, campaign staff and PACs. DCCC Chaiman Steve Israel said of the Romney-Ryan ticket, “They’ll be a nightmare for seniors who’ve earned their Medicare benefits.” The President of Planned Parenthood is painting Ryan’s vote to de-fund the abortion giant as a testament to the Congressman being “out of touch and wrong for women.”

Many Conservatives are excited to have someone that can talk about entitlement reform and fiscal sanity. The contrast between the President’s budgets, which have failed to garner any votes at all, and Ryan’s serious proposals could benefit Romney in an election year when deficits and the economy could come into the picture. Popular with TEA party Conservatives, Ryan will help bring along many from the fiscally-Conservative crowd and will likely help deliver Wisconsin to the Romney side.

The American Conservative Union released a statement this morning on the Ryan pick saying that “this bold choice is resonating throughout the conservative movement and will give Mitt Romney very important momentum heading into the Convention and ultimately to victory in November. Gov. Romney’s selection unifies conservatives, defines our message of bringing fiscal sanity back to our government, and brings a youthful enthusiasm to the ticket as we embark on an important debate of ideas which will define America for generations to come.”

Not all Conservatives are excited about the Ryan nod. Some say he’s not fiscally conservative enough, others think that he’s too socially-conservative – some are just ticked-off that their pick for VP didn’t get chosen. Some have gone so far as to report that the selection of Ryan will ultimately cost Romney the election.

Whether left, right or middle, American voters were largely undecided on Ryan or don’t know who he is according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll. Thus begins the race, by both sides, to define him.

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