Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan couldn’t have been greeted with more enthusiasm. At Saturday’s FAMiLY Leadership Summit, the state’s social conservatives embraced the pick. At the State Fair on Monday, the crowd that gathered to catch a glimpse of Ryan clogged the grand concourse and the sound system couldn’t magnify his voice far enough to reach all of those who wanted to listen to Ryan’s remarks.
The mass of people who turned out to see Ryan was impressive. Some were wearing bright blue shirts that sported the logos of Republican team for federal offices on the back. Others waved Romney signs and American flags. For the first time in 2012 presidential campaign, the excitement surrounding the Romney campaign is real. Romney’s pick of Ryan as his running mate has united the party and provides Republicans with the energy they need for the final campaign push.
That’s not to say that Republicans were not uniting around Romney before the selection of Ryan, but the energy level was more reminiscent of McCain’s 2008 campaign, rather than the excitement generated by George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. The Republican booth at the fair was packed on Monday. They ran out of Romney placards and other campaign parapheralia. People also registered to vote as Republicans and signed up to volunteer and put up yard signs. No matter how you cut it, Ryan’s addition to the ticket is invigorating Iowa Republicans.
Uniting the Republican Party might be easy to do in some states, but it can be difficult in Iowa. Romney’s selection of Ryan is a perfect fit for Iowa Republicans who are not easy to impress since we get to kick the tires on coutless presidential wannabees every four or eight years.
With Iowa kicking off the presidential nominating process, voters in the state seem to be more forward looking. This is true for Republicans who in the last two caucuses have voted from someone besides the perceived frontrunner. The same was true of Iowa Democrats in 2008 when they backed Obama over Hillary Clinton.
Romney’s selection of Ryan is a nod to the future. While he’s risen though the ranks of congress and become a leader on fiscal issues, Ryan is only 42 years old, has a young family, and has that wholesome Midwest quality that makes him difficult not to like. Even though Sarah Palin energized Republican activists when McCain announced her as his running mate, Ryan’s appeal is based more on substance and issues than on his personality and his ability to whip up a crowd.
Democrats and many media contend that the inclusion of Ryan on the ticket could hurt Romney in the fall with older voters. Not only is the argument a byproduct of lazy journalism, but also it’s also insulting to older voters.
If seniors are sour on the Ryan budget, they should also be sour on Obama since Obamacare cut Medicare by $700 billion. Furthermore, the notion that reform of government entitlement programs isn’t necessary will simply not sell. Americans know that that the national debt is a crushing burden on future generations. Americans also know that the current level of spending by the Obama administration is not sustainable. People also understand that without necessary reforms, entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will be jeopardized.
Romney’s selection of Ryan is a clear indication that he is willing to debate the critical issues that face our nation. That deserves praise and admiration instead of more horserace journalism. The Republican response to Ryan has been tremendous, but mainly because it helps strengthen the contrast between Romney and the President.
President Obama had an opportunity to lock down Iowa heading into this fall, and his three-day bus tour across the state this week was likely intended to do just that. Despite many social conservatives remaining lukewarm to Romney’s candidacy, he has been able to keep the poll numbers in Iowa close. In fact, Romney leads the latest Rassmussen Poll in the state by two points.
Now that Romney has united the party behind his ticket and his choice has excited the party, Obama may very well be in trouble in Iowa. Only time will tell, but Iowa Republicans are excited heading into the national convention, and that’s a great sign for Romney.
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