The naming of Paul Ryan to be Mitt Romney’s running mate may not be going over quite as well as the campaign had hoped. From rationalizations that no one really pays attention to the VP pick to names like “Rinse & Repeat”, the air is decidedly not good for the campaign. Making matters worse for Romney/Ryan is the fact that, unlike in 2008, the announcement of Ryan pulled in very little enthusiasm. In 2008, when Senator John McCain named Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate, the campaign pulled in some $10 million. Romney/Ryan got about half that.
The Obama/Biden Campaign have already gone on the offensive. In Iowa, President Barack Obama hit Representative Paul Ryan hard stating:
“Right now folks here in Iowa and across the heartland are suffering from one of the worst droughts in 50 years. Farmers and ranchers depend on a good crop season to pay the bills and put a roof over their heads, and I know that things are tough right now. “The best way to help these states is for leaders in Congress to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty. But right now, too many members of Congress are blocking that bill from becoming law. Now, I’m told Governor Romney’s new running mate might be around Iowa these next few days. And he’s one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities. It’s time to put politics aside and pass it right away.”
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams rebutted that with “Paul Ryan hails from an agriculture state and supported disaster relief, and the truth is no one will work harder to defend farmers and ranchers than the Romney-Ryan ticket.” Of course, in the Opposite Day world of Romney/Ryan, this is true. Unfortunately, Ryan has been demanding changes to the Farm Bill and refusing to allow passage of it currently. He wants cuts to programs that help farmers. This has delayed the Farm Bill quite a lot at a time when farms are deeply hurt due to one of the worst droughts in recent memory.
Making matters worse, the choice of Ryan is not seen as being all that positive for the Romney/Ryan Campaign. USA Today/Gallup Polling found that Ryan is viewed less positively than any other vice presidential pick since 2000- and that includes Sarah Palin, Joe Biden and Dick Cheney. The last time a vice presidential selection had net negative views ratings was Dan Quayle back in 1988.
Only 39% of Americans rated Ryan as “excellent” or “pretty good” and 42% rated Ryan “fair” or “poor” as a selection. Only 17% stated that they were more likely to vote for Romney now because of choosing Ryan. This is roughly the same amount as said they were willing to vote for McCain because of Palin. Roughly one third of Republicans said that they would vote for Romney now, a little more than when McCain named Palin to be his VP.
The Romney/Ryan Campaign tried to just dismiss this as people not knowing Ryan very much, but Palin had much higher ratings despite being less known than Ryan. In 2008, she got 46% saying that she was “excellent” or “pretty good” and 37% saying she was a “fair” to “poor” choice.
The Huffington Post noted that:
Another poll, conducted by ABC News/Washington Post, found Americans split about evenly in their opinions of Ryan, with 38 percent viewing his selection positively and 33 percent negatively.
A majority of Republicans reacted favorably, while independents were divided 39 percent favorable to 28 percent unfavorable. The survey included 522 live interviews conducted on the weekend after Ryan’s selection and had a 5.5 percent margin of error.
Steve Benen over at RachelMaddowBlog noted that “As a rule, when your opponents seem really happy about your choice in running mates, it’s fair to say you’ve made a provocative choice. And this morning, Democrats are practically giddy, unable to believe their good fortune.”
Benen went on to say that:
Readers may recall that I tend to think running-mate choices fall into one of three categories: Augusts, Novembers, and Januaries. If a nominee picks a January, he or she is looking for someone who can help govern once inaugurated. If he or she picks a November, the nominee is picking a running mate intended to help win the general election. And if the candidate picks an August, he or she is trying to bring a party together and satisfy intra-party demands.
Paul Ryan is an August. Romney, who never quite made the transition from the primaries to the general election, has been subjected to heavy pressure from conservatives to choose the right-wing House member, and it appears the lobbying campaign was successful. The Republican nominee still feels the need to satisfy the demands of his base, and Romney isn’t in a strong enough position to disappoint them.
The Democrats have been trying very hard to equate Romney and Ryan in the minds of people for some time now, and this just, basically, did it for them. David Frum was, perhaps, the best one on this when he noted that while Romney is not now assured a loss in November, selling this ticket just became infinitely more difficult.
Republicans have already gone on the offensive trying to blunt the criticism of the Ryan Budget by trying to say that President Obama is gutting many social safety networks including Social Security, Medicare and Welfare. In two ads now they have attacked the Obama Administration in ads that Newt Gingrich has stated are false. Gingrich actually stated that the ads had no proof of anything they were accusing Obama of, and Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith stated:
If Mitt Romney wants to take politics out of the gutter, he might want to start with his own campaign ads. Independent news organizations, President Clinton, and a Republican author of welfare reform have already called these attacks blatantly dishonest, but Romney’s campaign continues to run with them. Here are the facts: President Obama helped lead the welfare-to-work effort in the Illinois Senate in 1997, drawing praise from his Republican colleagues for his willingness to break with members of his own party. Under the Obama administration’s order, states would only be granted flexibility if they help 20 percent more people find work. And as Governor, Romney supported a policy that would have granted states even more flexibility around work requirements and could even have ended time limits on welfare, which would have ended welfare reform as we know it. Mitt Romney may think his only path to victory is through running dishonest ads like this one, but the American people deserve better.
Romney has been desperate to get Obama to change the tone of the campaign because of his inability or unwillingness to address his record as a businessman or as Governor of Massachusetts.
Editor’s Note: From this point on, rather than writing on every single development in the campaign, I will be writing roundups of the news and going into what is going on. There is just no point in doing fifteen stories on the campaign. Anything incredibly special will be dealt with in its own article.