An interesting article in the New York Times has me re-thinking my stance on a Romeny/Ryan ticket.
It isn’t because Paul Ryan wouldn’t be a good Vice Presidential candidate because, frankly, he would make a great one.
The article actually focuses on a potential Mitt Romney move toward the center. Scratch that, an inevitable move toward the center.
It’s who Mitt Romney is. He’s a centrist, not by political nature but my pragmatism. He’s a business man and as a business man, understands it’s not beneficial to him or anyone to hold too firmly to certain ideas.
His ability to adapt has been what has made him successful in everything he’s done since he was at Harvard simultaneously getting his MBA and his JD (they didn’t have a program for it at the time, he was jut dually enrolled. Think about that).
True, his conservatism is part of his religious beliefs, shaping his views on abortion and gay marriage, which will win him points with Tea Party and conservative voters.
But the budget is where he may have some wiggle room. That’s the heart of what the Times article is about because the Republican-run House will apparently insist on the hard-line approach to budget deficits even if Romney is elected.
Let me tell you, when I figured out what was going on, I realized how genius it was from a strategy standpoint for the GOP.
On one side you have President Obama, the definition of a tax and spend liberal, who favors higher taxes and government intervention over personal freedom and financial responsibility.
On the other side are the Republicans in Congress, perceived to be corrupted by Tea Partiers and hawking the deficit by making draconian cuts (which, by the way, they’re not).
Mitt Romney gets to do what he does so well: equivocate.
He can support Paul Ryan’s plan as a daring and substantive effort for dealing with the deficit, but by separating himself from it, can also criticize some of the more controversial items like the massive changes to Medicare.
If he picks Paul Ryan as a Vice President, he’s all in.
As much as conservatives (including this one) may like that from an ideological standpoint, I don’t know that it’s the best way to win an election.
Pick another conservative crusader like Marco Rubio and you can energize the base while also leaving open the possibility of distinguishing yourself from one of the most controversial, albeit intelligent and eloquent, conservatives in the country.
You can still use Paul Ryan as a mouthpiece of the plan and to explain conservative ideology. I think the Republican party would be smart to get him into the media spotlight as much as possible.
On the other hand, Romney can appear more moderate and appeal to independents, where this election will most certainly be won.
Having Paul Ryan’s endorsement means having the conservative stamp of approval in the minds of voters. But if Romney keeps him at an arm’s length, it could also give him just enough credibility with moderate voters to win over that 20% block of independents where most elections are won.