The Battle To Define Paul Ryan: ‘Bold’ vs. ‘Radical’ (The Note)

Aug 12, 2012 11:56am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

NOTABLES:

  • YOUR SECRET IS SAFE WITH BETH. Clandestine flights. A slight disguise. Long drives to out-of-the-way airports by an aide’s 19-year-old son. An afternoon dash through the wooded ravine behind Paul Ryan’s house in Janesville, Wis. ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports that these were just some of the things Mitt Romney’s campaign did to keep the world from knowing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee decided to pick Ryan as his running mate. Beginning in April, Romney aide Beth Myers and a team of lawyers extensively vetted several possible vice presidential candidates, but, in the end, Ryan was only candidate Romney met in person to discuss the job. Read Jon Karl’s cloak-and-dagger backstory: http://abcn.ws/MP5SsB
  • PASSED OVER: PORTMAN AND PAWLENTY: ABC News’ Gregory Simmons asked vice presidential short-lister, Ohio Sen. Portman in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday if he was disappointed. After a long pause, Portman answered: “Well, I’ll just say what I’ve been saying. That I’m happy where I am. I do feel fortunate to be where I am. I really do.  And I’ve said from the outset I think I can help him where I am.” And on “This Week” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty whether he had any hard feelings about being passed over: “I’m excited for the ticket,” Pawlenty told George. He added, “I didn’t support Governor Romney because I expected to be vice president. I didn’t get something I didn’t expect.” Regarding Ryan, Pawlenty said the Wisconsin congressman had a “clear, specific vision” and an “adult approach to solving the nation’s problems.”
  • FROM PALIN, WITH LOVE. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a note of congratulations on her Facebook wall last night — from one running mate to another:  ”Congratulations to Mitt Romney on his choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. President Obama has declared that this election is about ‘two fundamentally different visions’ for America. Goodness, he’s got that right. Our country cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama’s fundamentally flawed vision. We must now look to this new team, the Romney/Ryan ticket, to provide an alternate vision of an America that is fiscally responsible, strong, and prosperous — an America that understands and is proud of her exceptional place in the world and will respect those who fight to secure that exceptionalism, which includes keeping our promises to our veterans.” http://on.fb.me/NqQcZ3

THE NOTE:

The honeymoon is over.

Almost as soon as Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his vice presidential pick yesterday, the walls had already started closing in on him with both Democrats and Republicans pushing from either side to define him in ways that suit their conflicting purposes.

To the Obama campaign and the president’s allies, “it’s a pick that’s meant to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican Party, but it’s one that should trouble everybody else,” as Obama senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” http://abcn.ws/RDLHgu

To Republicans — especially those that had been vocally advocating for Romney to pick Ryan in recent days — the Wisconsin congressman’s selection is being seen as a big boost for the GOP presidential ticket.

“It remakes the race,” Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said on the “This Week” roundtable this morning. “It recasts things — it gives a different heft to the entire race.”

While not nearly as risky as then-candidate John McCain’s decision to tap little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin four years ago, Romney’s decision to make Ryan his No. 2 lends an air of boldness that many Republicans believed to be lacking from the campaign thus far.

And while Ryan may never be able to draw the crowds of thousands upon thousands that Palin commanded in 2008, a new, amped-up energy level was already apparent among the GOP voters who turned out to see Romney and Ryan in their first joint appearances together up and down the state of Virginia yesterday.

And the Romney campaign was touting the fact that they raised $3.5 million online in the first 24 hours after yesterday’s announcement, which took place in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Va.

For their part, Democrats are wasting no time in casting Ryan as a “right wing ideologue” who wants to put an end to Medicare as we know it.

“This was a defining choice for Mitt Romney,” Axelrod told Stephanopoulos. “And now it’s actually a clarifying choice for the American people.”

ABC political analyst Cokie Roberts put it this way: “It is a bold choice,” she said, “but bold is not necessarily wise.”

 

RYAN COMES OUT SWINGING.  After one day on the trail with Mitt Romney, Rep. Paul Ryan is already talking a big game on behalf of the newly minted ticket, pledging: “We’re going to win this campaign.” “We’ve got the wind behind us, I’m really excited about this race,” Ryan said aboard a charter flight from Virginia to North Carolina last night, ABC’s Emily Friedman reports. “Exciting day, lot of energy, big day, it’s now two on two instead of two on one. This is good,” Romney said. “They’ve got someone else to pick on too,” he added, pointing at Ryan. “It was a big day for me. I’m sure it was for Paul. It was just great to have his family with us, some of my family, exciting day, very big start and feeling very encouraged. The energy throughout Virginia was very exciting, really a terrific day,” Romney added. Romney also mentioned that he was pleased that now that he has a running mate, they can split their time and double their efforts. “So I’m excited it also means we’ll be able to go to different states at different times and energize our colleagues and hopefully bring some people across the aisle to support our team,” Romney said. http://abcn.ws/RJJotQ

GOING SOLO: On Monday, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan will drop by the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa at 1 p.m. CT. It will be his first solo event after being named as Romney’s running mate.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO IOWA: From the Obama campaign: “On Monday, August 13, President Obama will kick-off a three-day bus tour across Iowa with grassroots events in Council Bluffs and Boone, Iowa.  The President will discuss the choice in this election between two fundamentally different visions of how to create an economy built to last and restore middle-class economic security. .. On Tuesday August 14, President Obama will continue his three day bus tour through Iowa with grassroots events in Oskaloosa, Marshalltown and Waterloo. … On Wednesday, August 15, President Obama will end his three day bus tour through Iowa with grassroots events in Dubuque and Davenport.  First Lady Michelle Obama will be joining the President at both grassroots events.”

 

HOW THE BIGGEST SECRET IN POLITICS STAYED THAT WAY:

–’A BASEBALL HAT AND SUNGLASSES’: On Aug. 1 Mitt Romney informed Beth Myers that he had decided Ryan would be his running mate, according to ABC’s Jonathan Karl, Emily Friedman and Arlette Saenz. Romney then called Ryan and asked him to come to Boston for a meeting on Aug. 5. Instead of flying directly to Boston, where he might be seen arriving in the city where Romney has his campaign headquarters, Ryan flew from Chicago into Hartford’s Bradley Airport. To keep from being recognized, he wore casual clothes, a baseball hat and sunglasses. “We sent my 19-year-old son to pick him up,” Myers said. Myers son Curt shuttled Ryan from Hartford to Myers’ home in Brookline, Mass., driving the car right into her garage before Ryan got out. Ryan had lunch with Myers’ family while Romney drove in from Wolfboro, N.H. — also entering her home through the garage. At Myers’ dining room table Romney and Ryan met alone for one hour — the one and only meeting Romney had to discuss the job with a potential candidate. Romney offered the the position and Ryan accepted. http://abcn.ws/MP5SsB

–’I KNOW THOSE WOODS’: After Friday’s memorial service for the victims of the Sikh temple shooting, reporters saw Ryan get dropped off at his home by his aide Andy Speth. He walked in his front door, but then proceeded to sneak out his back door, through his backyard and into a wooded ravine behind his home. Ryan was then picked up by the house at the other end of the woods. “I know those woods like the back of my hand,” Ryan told reporters Saturday night on Romney’s campaign plane. “So it wasn’t too hard to walk through them. So I just went out my backdoor went through the gully in the woods I grew up playing in. I walked past the tree that has my own tree fort I built back there.”  http://abcn.ws/MP5SsB

–LAST SUPPER: APPLEBEES. Instead of flying out of Milwaukee or Chicago Friday, Ryan was whisked to the airport in Waukegan, Ill., where a private plane was waiting to take Ryan and his family to Elizabeth City, N,C., at 5 p.m. Ryan, his family, Myers and a handful of top aides spent Friday night at the Fairfield Inn in Elizabeth City, where they ordered take-out from Applebees for dinner. As the campaign announced the vice presidential announcement would happen the next morning, Myers turned off her phone and went to bed. With a single Secret Service agency along, Ryan and others drove, unnoticed, to the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk for the announcement. http://abcn.ws/MP5SsB

AN EARLY CLUE FROM INSIDE ROMNEY H.Q.: ABC News received an advance clue from a source inside Romney campaign headquarters on Thursday. On the board that lists Romney’s whereabouts, the candidate’s Friday schedule had mysteriously changed overnight. Up until Wednesday the board read — “Office Time” — for Romney on Friday, but by mid-morning on Thursday that had changed. “Office Time” was erased and replaced by the words “Sikh Service.” Next to that notation were three letters, “OTR,” which in campaign speak, typically stands for “off the record.” Ryan was the only one of the vice presidential short-listers to attend Friday’s memorial service in Wisconsin for the victims of the Sikh Temple shootings. Romney’s son, Tagg, also attended the service,  http://abcn.ws/POCf5e

 

INTERNAL ROMNEY CAMPAIGN TALKING POINTS HINT AT BUDGET DIFFERENCES. Does Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate mean that the former Massachusetts governor will embrace the Wisconsin congressman’s budget plan? Not exactly, according to a set of internal talking points produced by the Romney campaign and obtained by ABC News’ Michael Falcone. “Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget,” according to the talking points, “and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.” The memo includes responses to anticipated Obama campaign attacks, key messages about Ryan as well as “questions and answers” about the Romney-Ryan ticket. For example, “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have different views on some policy areas – like Medicare spending, entitlement reform, labor, etc. – do you think those differences are going to hurt or help?” The answer the campaign provides: “Of course they aren’t going to have the same view on every issue. But they both share the view that this election is a choice about two fundamentally different paths for this country. … So, while you might find an issue or two where they might not agree, they are in complete agreement on the direction that they want to lead America.” http://abcn.ws/P1XQvd

ROMNEY ADVISER ED GILLESPIE WEIGHS IN in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley this morning: “As Governor Romney has made clear, if the Romney — I’m sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as president, he would have signed it, of course. And one of the reasons that he chose Paul Ryan was for Congressman Ryan’s willingness to put forward innovative solutions in a budget. At the same time, it is the Romney/Ryan ticket, and as president, President Romney will be putting forward his own budget. But in terms of, for example, the Medicare proposal that Senator Wyden and Congressman Ryan have put together, and the Wyden/Ryan plan, that is something that Governor Romney agrees is an approach we need to take.”

 

WHAT DOES RYAN PICK MEAN FOR THE HOUSE AND SENATE? So, how do strategists who are tasked with advising their candidates in House and Senate races view the Paul Ryan pick? ABC News Political Director Amy Walter writes: Most Democrats we talked with were giddy about the pick. Even hours after Ryan’s selection had been announced, one Democratic strategist was still in disbelief calling it the “best pick possible for us.” This same strategist, who was at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Annual issues conference in Napa Valley, California, said donors and members of Congress in attendance were “pumped” about the Ryan pick. “This election becomes a referendum,” said this advisor. “Balance the budget the right way by protecting Medicare. Or stand with Romney-Ryan — who would further burden seniors and the middle class. It is a disastrous pick for congressional Republicans.” However, one long-time Democratic consultant warned Democrats not to get too confident. The fact that Ryan has teamed up with Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon to outline a plan to tackle Medicare reform, said this consultant, complicates Democrats’ plans to turn Ryan into a partisan boogeyman. http://abcn.ws/P1XQvd

BUT…. At least one Republican consultant we reached out to told us that he worries that every time Republicans are talking about Medicare, “they are not talking about jobs and the economy.” An issue, of course, that Republicans have long held will not only define this race, but sink Obama. When asked what he thinks of the Ryan pick, another GOP strategist who is involved in House and Senate races tells me simply “not helpful. Instead of referendum election we now get a choice.”

 

ABC NEWS ANALYSIS:

–MATTHEW DOWD: ‘MOTIVATE THE BASE’ This Ryan pick isn’t going to help close the gap with Latino voters. This isn’t going to persuade suburban, middle class moms to support the ticket. This pick is an acknowledgement on the Romney campaign’s part that they see their only path to victory as motivating their base. We have seen some evidence of this effort to motivate the base from the tactics of the Romney campaign over the last few months, but I think this pick is a clear signal that this is their strategy for the remaining days ahead. And I don’t think they will be subtle any more about it. I think you will see analysis from them that they can win this election without increasing support among Latinos or by having progressive social appeals to suburban moms. I think they have decided that a lesson learned about base motivation from Bush’s 2004 race is applicable in 2012, and it isn’t surprising since many of their key staff worked on that campaign. http://abcn.ws/POCf5e

–TERRY MORAN: WILL ROMNEY BE OVERSHADOWED? Conventional wisdom holds that veeps don’t determine elections; voters vote the top of the ticket. But has there ever been a vice-presidential pick whose ideas/ideology so overshadowed the presidential nominee’s? Has any presidential nominee ever essentially run on his vice-president’s ideas? Ronald Reagan almost picked Gerald Ford to mollify moderates in 1980. But he balked when Ford insisted Henry Kissinger return as Secretary of State. Reagan was his own man politically; he knew what he was about and so did everyone else. Not sure you can say the same about Romney. Paul Ryan, then, is an unusual pick historically. Romney is in uncharted waters as the nominee, having a running mate who some will say overshadows him ideologically. How Romney demonstrates convincing leadership of his own ticket may be one of the key tests of his candidacy in this campaign. http://abcn.ws/MOHOX2

–AMY WALTER: ON WISCONSIN. Romney is the nominee and can distance himself or attach himself as much as he wants to Ryan’s positions. He is now the boss and Ryan is his employee. Even so, there’s little doubt that the Democrats will do all they can to make sure he’s attached at Ryan’s hip. As for the contention that Ryan helps Romney in the Electoral College, that is a huge assumption that is nowhere worthy of the risk in picking him in the first place. First, winning Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes is not necessary for Romney to win the White House. Winning Ohio and Florida are. Moreover, Ryan’s image in Wisconsin is as solid as it is because he’s never been seriously challenged electorally. He’s easily won re-election to his southern Wisconsin district for the last 14 years. And, he’s never run a statewide race.

–RICK KLEIN: ‘IDEOLOGICAL BATTLE’ The choice of Ryan is simultaneously designed to be satisfying to the Republican base and provocative to much of the rest of the country — in short: bold, brash, and possibly explosive. Ryan’s selection will ignite a major ideological battle between the two sides, the very fight the nation has been poised to have since the Tea Party takeover of 2010. Ryan has been perhaps the most articulate messenger for a major rethinking of the federal government’s relationship to its citizens, and gives Romney immediate policy heft. The biggest shift could come in the campaign’s overarching themes. A campaign that has at times seemed to be about nothing will now be about something big, or more accurately a series of very big things. http://abcn.ws/PLWWif

 

THE BUZZ:

PAUL RYAN: MILLIONAIRE. “With business investments and a family inheritance, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and his wife have accumulated millions of dollars in assets and generated income last year well above his congressional salary, according to his most recent financial disclosure statement,” The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Finnegan reports. “Mitt Romney’s newly announced running mate reported assets in the range of $2 million to $7.7 million. The largest was the interest that his wife, Janna, holds in a trust resulting from the 2010 death of her mother, Prudence Little. Her interest in the trust falls in the range of $1 million to $5 million, Ryan reported. Ryan also reported investment income that, along with a distribution from the inheritance, supplemented his $174,000 congressional salary — somewhere between $168,000 and $1.2 million. … The report shows that Ryan has spread his wealth among a wide variety of investments. Ryan reported partnership income from an Oklahoma mining business, Ava O Limited Co., and royalties from the Oklahoma gravel rights of Blondie & Brownie. He also reported interests in mineral rights, vacant land, a cabin and a timber business in Oklahoma.” http://lat.ms/NY6gPz

JON KARL REMINDS: “As a candidate for Congress, Paul Ryan has released financial disclosure forms for years, but he has never released his tax returns. We know that Ryan turned over “several years” of tax returns to the Romney campaign during the vice presidential vetting process.  We have asked the Romney campaign if any of those returns will be made public.  No answer yet. Dick Cheney released ten years of returns after he was named as George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000. Sarah Palin released two years in 2008.”

WILL RYAN FORCE ROMNEY INTO A BUDGET BALLET? “In naming Ryan, Romney wed himself far more closely to proposals that have made the 42-year-old House Budget Committee chairman a hero to tea party and other conservative activists and anathema to Democrats,” notes the Associated Press’ Tom Raum. “Enshrined in budgets twice passed by the Republican House but so far rejected by the Democratic-run Senate, Ryan’s proposals would rein in federal domestic spending, lower tax rates and overhaul safety-net programs like Medicare and Medicaid for senior citizens, the disabled and the poor. Previously, Romney praised the Ryan budget in general terms, calling it in line with his own ideas, ‘bold and exciting’ and even ‘marvelous.’ But he hasn’t given it heavy emphasis in his campaign speeches nor singled out specifics. Romney’s own economic prescriptions have lacked detail in many areas. But from now on, he’ll be compelled to defend what is suddenly a ‘Romney-Ryan’ plan full of belt-tightening, smaller government proposals.” http://apne.ws/NvWSDu

BEFORE THE PICK: LOOKING BACK AT THE MITT AND PAUL SHOW. Over the past six months the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan seem to have developed a close personal relationship, ABC’s Shushannah Walshe and Emily Friedman reports. Mitt Romney is famous for sometimes having a hard time connecting on the stump, but that’s not the case with the 42 year old congressman.  They seem to have a similar head for data and policy and a comfort level that has turned into a fast friendship from their time campaigning together since he endorsed Romney in March. http://abcn.ws/Mof71D

–In Wisconsin in on primary day the two stopped by a sub shop to hand out sandwiches. The two stood behind the counter and doled out sandwiches to supporters, playing off one another and posing for photos. On April Fool’s Day in a video that went viral, Ryan  was involved in an elaborate prank with Romney. The former Massachusetts governor bounded in with a smile on his face expecting a crowd and he got an empty room. The two fell apart laughing and the body language reveals an obviously relaxed, buddy relationship.

–On their Wisconsin tour together, Ryan boasted that his picks for the NCAA tournament were so good, he knew he was right about picking Romney. “Now, I’m feeling pretty good about my picks these days, because when I filled out my NCAA brackets, I picked Kentucky against Kansas  in the championship game,” Ryan said. “I did have Marquette and Wisconsin going pretty far. You know, everybody made it to the Sweet Sixteen, but I did pick Kentucky to win, and man, those guys really dominated last night, but when I filled out my ballot here in Wisconsin, I picked who I think is gonna be the next President of the United States. I picked Mitt Romney.”

–When the two were on the stump together, the relationship was obvious. Romney was comfortable with the congressman taking the stage and he would even sit down to listen during town halls when Ryan was talking. “What I see in Mitt Romney are the kinds of skills, tools, character attributes that you need in a leader! He makes decisions. He doesn’t pander,” Ryan said at the Reagan Library in May. “He is going to beat Barack Obama and I think that we are going to save this country.”

MEET MRS. RYAN. Politico’s M.J. Lee reports: “Janna Little was a tax attorney for a prestigious consulting firm in Washington, D.C., when she swept one of the most eligible bachelors on the Hill, Rep. Paul Ryan, off his feet and off the market. A native Oklahoman and graduate of Wellesley College and George Washington University law school, Janna left the nation’s capital after marrying Ryan and moved to his hometown, Janesville, Wisc., to raise a family. Those who know Janna describe her as a quiet and gracious woman focused on taking care of her children. ‘She’s a very soft spoken, elegant, and lady-like. Very family-oriented. Always with her kids, always here picking up food for her family,’ Edmund Halabi, owner of the Italian House in Janesville where the Ryans dine, told POLITICO. ‘Just warm, easygoing, not upfront in the public arena. You can see her on the TV, she really stays back and doesn’t attract much attention to herself. Just an amazing lady-like figure.’ Now, the 43-year-old’s status as a stay-at-home mom who lives largely out of the political limelight is about to change.” http://politi.co/POr0JV

THE ALSO-RAN’s:

PORTMAN OPENS UP ABOUT GETTING THE CALL FROM ROMNEY. Senator Rob Portman, R-OH, learned from Gov. Mitt Romney via telephone Friday evening that he was not picked to be the GOP running mate, ABC’s Gregory Simmons reports. “He couldn’t have been more gracious,” Portman said of their interaction. “And I told him I’m really excited about the prospect of working with him as president and implementing the changes that are definitely needed in this county on economic and fiscal issues.” Portman said that despite being passed over, he will continue spearhead to Romney’s Ohio presidential effort. “It was a great phone conversation overall and I really appreciate him giving me the heads up,” Portman said. ABC News asked Portman if he was disappointed.  After a long pause, Portman answered: “Well, I’ll just say what I’ve been saying. That I’m happy where I am. I do feel fortunate to be where I am. I really do.  And I’ve said from the outset I think I can help him where I am.”  Portman emphasized again he thinks he can make an impact through his work in the U.S. Senate, that he loved his family and Ohio and that he really is happy where he is. “I was honored to be a part of the mix.  There. That’s the first time I’ve said that,” he said confirming for the first time that he had in fact been vetted by the Romney campaign. http://abcn.ws/Monjip

PAWLENTY: ‘NOT DISAPPOINTED’ Tim Pawlenty, joined by his wife Mary in New Hampshire, told ABC’s Shushannah Walshe he wasn’t disappointed by the news. “I didn’t enter this thinking I would be the V.P. candidate so I’m not disappointed,” Pawlenty said. “I’m excited about his candidacy and I’m excited about having him as president.” Pawlenty said he did not get a call from Romney Friday, but he did know his choice. Top Republicans tell ABC News it is Rep. Paul Ryan. The 42 year old is the chairman of the House Budget Committee. Reporters have been following Pawlenty’s every move for weeks and as he walked into a Manchester, N.h. hotel he said, “Now you can get on with life.” His wife, dressed in a bright teal dress, added with a smile, “And you can stop following us.” http://abcn.ws/PLmgoq

NOTED: A TAXING QUESTION.  On ABC’s “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos pressed Tim Pawlenty on how many years of tax returns he released to the Romney campaign during the vice presidential vetting process. Romney has refused to make public more than two years of tax returns ahead of the November election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: “How many years of tax returns did you provide to the Romney campaign?”

PAWLENTY: “I don’t remember the exact number. Several years.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Several years…so more than two?”

PAWLENTY: “Well, we don’t get into the details of the vetting process. I gave him a bunch of tax returns. I don’t remember the exact number.”

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

ABC TWEETER OF THE WEEK: @HeatherRiley10, Publicity Director “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” and “Nightline”

 @andreamsaul:$3.5 million raised online in 24 hrs of@MittRomney‘s pick of @PaulRyanVP #RomneyRyan2012

@hollybdc: Mitt Romney got his own NASCAR (Mooresville NC)

http://instagr.am/p/OOySmroDiO/

@mikiebarb: Janna Ryan turned down mic when Romney offered her a chance to speak at NC rally. Not game yet, it seems, to talk to public.

@ananavarro: If @MittRomney is elected president, I hope @bethmyers2012 is in charge of White House leak control. That woman can keep a secret

@JHoganGidley: I love @jheil and @Markhalperin ’s book, but all pundits, pls stop using “game change” to describe every big decision in politics.#overused

@KateEHansen: .@Reince on whether @MittRomney agrees w/ Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program: “Mitt Romney has his own plan.” Oh, okay.

 

POLITICAL RADAR

–Mitt Romney campaigns in North Carolina and Wisconsin with newly-minted running mate Paul Ryan.

–President Obama holds a series of campaign fundraisers in Chicago.

Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV

 

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