Ryan Terrific Choice for VP
Congressman Paul Ryan is a terrific choice for VP with Mitt Romney.
1) Romney was getting beat up for being rich, for Bain Capital and blamed for the Republican budget passed in Congress. If that is going to be what the election is about, you might as well have the guy who wrote that budget and who can best explain how capitalism works on the ticket.
2) The boldness of the choice suggests that Mitt Romney doesn't view the Presidency as just another job but may actually take some risks to save this nation from budget catastrophe. Entitlement reform is essential or budgets cannot be brought under control.
3) Wisconsin is again front and center. Bitter as the fight was, the conservative Republicans prevailed in a Democrat state where Obama is ahead. Without reform, there would have been no pensions for public employees long term but the unions wanted no change. They lost. Romney has apparently decided to confront the challenge rather than run from it.
5) I have known Paul Ryan since he was 20. He's the real deal. His conservative credentials are consistent.
a) He was an intern for Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin and then at the Small Business Committee, whose office was directly across the hall from Senator Coats office. He used to come over to visit with us often. Kasten was co-author with Jack Kemp of the Kamp-Kasten tax plan which evolved into Kemp-Roth-Kasten (Roth was Senate Finance Chr). When you read that Ryan was a Kemp guy, it is not that he was a guy who wore a Kemp political button but active in Kemp-Kasten "fair and simple tax" ideas.
b) Kasten lost in 1992. Ryan was selected by Class of 1994 member Sam Brownback of Kansas as his legislative director. I supported Sam for our class presidency, but he lost to Roger Wicker (now a Senator from Mississippi). Sam then created a Reform Caucus of which I was part. Paul Ryan did a lot of the work in trying to eliminate four federal agencies, as well as other reforms.
c) Ryan is from Janesville, Wisconsin also the home of fellow Class of 1994 congressman Mark Neumann. Mark ran for Senate, narrowly losing to Feingold (Neumann is trying to get the Senate nomination this coming Tuesday for this year's open seat) which gave an opening for Ryan to move back and run for Congress. He did, winning and never looking back with solid margins of victory thereafter.
d) Neumann had been the alternative budget developer for the Class of 1994. Ryan in 2000 took over that role, challenging the House Republican leaders and conference to come up with more conservative budgets. It evolved into the Republican Study Committee Budget, after Congressman John Shadegg became leader of RSC (and it became more aggressively conservative).
6) Ryan understands how capitalism works. Unlike some conservatives who opposed TARP, he didn't agree with all the ways it was implemented, but not only voted for it, in a private member's session he excoriated those Members opposed to it as not understanding how capitalism actually works.
7) He's personally tight, sleeping in his office.
8) He works in Washington, but goes home to Wisconsin where his family lives. He didn't move to Washington (as evidenced by living in his office). He worked his district hard, doing even more town meetings than I did (I did over 100 open town meetings in my first few years).
9) While ideological, he understands how the real world works. Representing the GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin and many auto makers we went through very difficult times defending GM - a few times as the only Republicans to do so (on pension reform, for example).
10) He is very self-confident but humble at the same time. In public and private.
11) He's willing to challenge authority. When we lost the House in 2008, the question was who should replace Speaker Hastert as our leader. John Boehner and Roy Blunt were the choices. A small group of us wanted more of a change. We backed John Shadegg of Arizona. I nominated John, Paul seconded and then Pete Hoekstra of Michigan (who just won the Senate nomination in Michigan) did the other second. John got about 45 votes, and we then shifted to John Boehner, who is now Speaker. Paul was instrumental in all planning and strategy for Shadegg, including reviewing my speech as well as us discussing how to fit all three together to argue for reform.
12) He doesn't lead with social issues but he's solid. Remember, he was Sam Brownback's Legislative Director.
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