I thought that the Ryan pick was a curious one for Romney, but I didn’t anticipate this much apprehension in the GOP ranks.
Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right — and a huge chance of going horribly wrong.
In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election. […]
And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races.
I spoke with a Republican colleague at work today and he thinks the Ryan pick is smart because it makes the election focused on the economy. While I agree with that sentiment and now understand a little bit more why Romney would hazard this pick, my counterpoint was that it shines a light on the GOP’s priorities against the Dems. If Romney/Ryan would just give up this foolish philosophical “trickle down” argument…independents might flock to them. Well, maybe not flock, but they’d at least be much more open to considering them. The Medicare issue is tricky, especially when they want to increase the defense budget during a time when even Republican appointees suggested massive cuts. And Ryan’s record is clearly partisan. He was all for big spending on Medicare when Bush was in office, but when Obama is in office…all of a sudden he wants to tighten the belt?
But Romney/Ryan won’t do it. They’re too beholden to the special interests. And that will make them feel phony to the indies. At least that’s my guess.