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Ryan on his parade: Mitt Romney's choice of running-mate puts the economy centre-stage in the Repulican presidential campaign 

The choice of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate is an undoubted risk for the Republican candidate. At a time when his poll numbers, especially in all-important Florida and Ohio, weren't looking good, he has chosen to "double down" on his central message: that only the Republicans can be trusted to turn around the US economy. As chairman of the House Budget committee, Ryan came up with a radical cost-cutting plan that would have set the federal budget back on track to solvency, at the cost of cutting entitlements and trimming America's burgeoning welfare state. He shamed the Republican party into adopting it, although of course it had no chance of becoming law in Obama's America. By choosing Ryan, Romney has effectively adopted the Ryan Plan too, even though it was denounced by Newt Gingrich as "right-wing social engineering" and by the Democrats as an assault on Medicare and Medicaid.

Romney obviously feels that by choosing Ryan he will put America's "debt, doubt and despair" (Ryan's phrase) centre-stage in this election, and force Americans to choose between two radically different alternatives. Since many more Americans are Friedmanites than Keynesians, it might just work. Furthermore, the Romney-Ryan ticket can't be linked closely to the Bush Administration, since Ryan was a vocal critic of Bush's spending increases. Plus Ryan will thrash Joe Biden in the vice-presidential debate, because Biden is a woeful debater and Ryan is highly intelligent, as I discovered when he attended a speech of mine in Wisconsin a couple of years ago, and came up afterwards to ask the smartest questions of the evening.

Yet there are problems. Americans like to vote for vice-presidents who they can easily envisage taking over the White House should the president be assassinated or incapacitated, and Paul Ryan is only 42, although he has served in Congress for 14 years. Furthermore, Wisconsin only has 10 electoral votes, compared to Ohio's 20 and Florida's 27. It might also be that America's addiction to handouts and entitlements has already gone so far that the White House's scare tactics about the Ryan Plan will now energise those welfare recipients who are presently lukewarm about voting at all in November into turning out for the Democrats. Most Republican voters who would be encouraged to vote because Ryan is now on the ticket — such as entrepreneurs who believe that they did indeed build their own businesses themselves — are already fired up because Obama is on the opposing one.

Pretty much whatever happens, however, Ryan has been catapulted to the top echelons of the Republican hierarchy. If Romney loses in a tight race, Ryan will be the man to beat for the 2016 nomination. If Romney wins, Ryan will still be only 50 in 2020.  A personable, energetic and decent man, and one moreover with the only credible plan to save the American economy, Ryan nonetheless represents a risk for Romney, one which he didn't necessarily have to take. As the Democrats now try to turn Ryan into a second Sarah Palin, Romney will be hoping that Ryan's numbers — both economic and psephological — do indeed add up.   

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Jens Franck
September 2nd, 2012
2:09 PM
ROMNEY - presidential compaign. From a german point of view is Mr. Romney a kind of peanut - similar to G.W.Bush - in one bag much money in the other bag funny promisses which never will be achieved. God save America ? No - God help America bewaring it of such a useless person. B.r. J. Franck - Germany

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