N2K Presidential: The Battle for Ryan's Image

National Journal Staff
August 14, 2012

As just about everyone in Washington knows, the next few days are critical for Paul Ryan as Republicans and Democrats fight to define him before a national electorate that doesn't know him well.

So, how’s he doing?

Well, Ryan received the predictable accolades in the days after the announcement, like Sunday show flattery and a nod from The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. He also survived his first major TV interview.

But then he was heckled at a campaign stop and took criticism on the farm bill from President Obama. And his early polling was not so hot. A Gallup/USA Today poll showed 42 percent have a “fair” or “poor” view of Ryan, while 39 percent find him to be "pretty good" or “excellent.” Fully 19 percent had no opinion at all.

More ominous was a Politico story on Tuesday that queried three dozen GOP strategists and campaign operatives and described a strong undercurrent of Republican discontent, which ranged from “gnawing apprehension” to “hair-on-fire anger.”

Some have questioned the wisdom of a running mate who puts hot-button issues like Medicare on the table for the election. “Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party,” Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, told Politico. “And probably lose. Maybe big.”

In the end, most running mates are quickly branded with an image, fair or not. The storyline that sticks to Ryan is developing—and it will be set in weeks rather than months.

—Glen Justice


GOP Pros Fret Over Ryan

[Politico, 8/14/12] Politico queried three dozen GOP strategists and campaign operatives to describe a strong undercurrent of Republican discontent over the choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, ranging from “gnawing apprehension” to “hair-on-fire anger.”

Ryan Renounces His Medicare Cuts NEW!
[National Journal, 8/14/12] Rep. Paul Ryan, in a Fox News interview that aired on Tuesday evening, renounced $716 billion in cuts to Medicare that were part of his fiscal 2013 budget.

Biden: Romney Would Put Voters ‘Back in Chains’ NEW!
[National Journal, 8/14/12] Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday told a diverse crowd in Virginia, including many African-Americans, that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would “put you all back in chains" by unshackling Wall Street.

Obama Looks to Rediscover Old Magic in Iowa
[National Journal, 8/14/12] Iowa is up for grabs this fall, with polls showing a close race. As National Journal’s Alex Roarty writes, this may explain why President Obama has already spent seven days campaigning in Iowa this year, a state that only has six electoral votes.

House Dems Target 50 Foes in Ryan-Medicare Attacks
[National Journal, 8/14/12] With Romney’s veep selection, the Democratic strategy to hang Ryan’s ideas about Medicare around the necks of dozens of House Republicans has now become an all-out blitz.

Obama and Romney on Medicare: The Basics NEW!
[National Journal, 8/14/12] Here’s a breakdown of the major features of the two candidates’ plans for Medicare, laying out how each would change life for current and future beneficiaries, and where future budget savings are achieved.

Future Not Guaranteed to Convention Speakers NEW!
[National Journal, 8/14/12] In politics, nothing says you're the future more than getting a coveted prime time speaking slot at a national convention. Except when it doesn't.

The Obama Budget: By the Numbers
[National Journal, 8/14/12] From sequestration to Social Security, National Journal’s Katy O’Donnell explores Obama’s budget proposal. For a contrast, check out O’Donnell’s breakdown of Ryan’s budget, too.

Obama, Romney Can Expect Convention Bumps – But Maybe Not For Long

[National Journal, 8/14/12] Since 1964, the median post-convention “bounce” has been 5 percentage points — and it should be no different this year. But sustaining those bumps is no sure thing.

‘Medi-Scare’ Attacks Now a Bipartisan Sport NEW!
[National Journal, 8/14/12] . In the now-bipartisan sport of Medicare-baiting, Democrats will tell voters that Republicans want to “end Medicare as we know it,” while Republicans will say that it’s Democrats who have already voted for $700 billion in cuts for current beneficiaries by passing health care reform.

Romney Team Assails Obama's ‘Character’ Over Cancer Ad
[National Journal, 8/14/12] The Romney campaign has released a stinging new ad that calls out an advertisement by a pro-Obama super PAC that linked Romney to the death of a woman.

Ryan Opposed Debt-Reduction Plan Romney Used as a Model

[Bloomberg, 8/14/12] Ryan was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement, which Romney now holds out as a model for putting America’s fiscal house in order.

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