The Right Rallies Around Paul Ryan
PHOTO: House Budget Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks at the 2012 Fiscal Summit on May 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

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

NOTABLES:

  • TO DISAVOW OR NOT TO DISAVOW? Top Obama campaign officials are refusing to disavow a controversial television ad by the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, that suggests Mitt Romney had a role in a woman's death, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. The ad, released Tuesday, features former GST Steel worker, Joe Soptic, of Kansas City, Mo., who lost his job and health benefits when Romney's Bain Capital shuttered the factory in 2001. Soptic recounts how his wife became seriously ill shortly after "my family lost their health care" and died three weeks later… Senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs and deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter were pressed on whether the insinuation that Romney contributed to Soptic's death crossed a line. Both distanced themselves from the super PAC, asserting independence from the group, and claimed to know nothing about Soptic's case. http://abcn.ws/MPndNu
  • MUM'S THE WORD FROM TEAM OBAMA: "We have nothing - no involvement with any ads that are done by Priorities USA. We don't have any knowledge of the story of the family," Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday. "As you know, campaign finance rules in that regard are in place for a reason. At the same time, while we're talking about this ad, which we all know we had no involvement in, Mitt Romney's team is running a dishonest ad, an ad that is a big, bold-faced lie that even President Clinton has said was disappointing and inaccurate," Psaki said referring to a recent ad produced by the Romney campaign attacking what they say is President Obama's dismantling of the Clinton-era welfare reform law.
  • BUT…. As Politico's Reid Epstein reports: "When President Obama's aides said they weren't familiar with former Missouri steelworker Joe Soptic's life story, all they had to do was check their own campaign archives. … Soptic also appeared, wearing what appears to be an identical shirt, in a May television ad for the Obama campaign. … [Deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie] Cutter hosted an Obama campaign conference call in May in which Soptic told reporters the very story featured in the Priorities spot." http://politi.co/Thjn3f
  • SUPER PAC ON DEFENSE. In a CNN interview on Wednesday, Bill Burton, co-founder of Priorities USA, defended the ad. "The point of this ad is to tell the story of one guy, Joe Soptic, and the impact on his life that happened for years, and to this day, as a result of decisions that Mitt Romney made," Burton said in a contentious interview with Wolf Blitzer. "This is one of a series of ads in which we talk about the very long lasting impacts that Mitt Romney's decision had on these communities, on these individuals and their families." http://bit.ly/ QGOtlh

THE NOTE:

If - as many political gurus believe - Mitt Romney has already made up his mind about who he wants at his side between now and November, all of the chatter, advice and urging he's hearing this week may not matter one bit.

But with uncertainty still surrounding Romney's choice of running mate, voices on the right are taking this opportunity to try to sway his decision, and lately the persuasion campaign seems to be focused on one contender: Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

The influential Wall Street Journal editorial page weighed in last night, saying that Ryan, "best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline." http://on.wsj.com/P0O4cd

The Journal didn't stop there. Its editors cast Ryan as a one of the "the GOP's new generation of reformers" who turned down the advice of "every Beltway bedwetter" and decided to tackle the fraught issue of entitlement reform.

"Like Reagan, he has a basic cheerfulness and Midwestern equanimity," the Journal wrote, adding that Ryan also possesses a "Jack Kemp-like belief in opportunity for all."

Long before this week's last-minute push for the 42-year-old congressman from Janesville, Wisc., Democrats were already giddy at the prospect that Ryan could be Romney's No. 2. They have their sights set on attacking Ryan's budget plans, in particular his proposed Medicare reforms.

Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative National Review in a Politico Op-Ed yesterday put it this way: "In political terms, picking Ryan is supposedly like hanging out with the No. 2 of an Al Qaeda affiliate somewhere in the badlands of the Middle East. He's a target. If the missiles haven't yet taken him out, it's only because the drone is hovering silently overhead before hurling down its bolts of death."

But Lowry's point wasn't to dissuade Romney from choosing Ryan. Just the opposite.

"Ryan would inject a jolt of energy into the campaign and reorient the debate around policy," the National Review editor wrote. "The Romney campaign doesn't have to be reckless. It does have to have a pulse. It doesn't have to commit ideological hari-kari. It does have to have an unmistakable substantive content." http://politi.co/Thv9KV

Recently the editors of the Weekly Standard have also been extolling the virtues of picking Ryan and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have all had kind words.

Where is Ryan in all of this? He is beginning a week-long vacation in Colorado this weekend and is refusing to weigh in on the veepstakes speculation. But, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Craig Gilbert Ryan indicated that if he were picked, he'd be ready for the fight.

"I want that debate . . . I'm really eager to have that debate. That's what we're here for. The reason I want that debate is they have to falsify to make their claims (about his budget)," Ryan said in the interview with Gilbert. "They have no alternative, no solution. All they have is, 'Let's stick with status quo.'" http://bit.ly/MzBDWx

NOTE IT!

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Outrage works in the world of political ads these days. President Obama's Super PAC comes under fire for an ad that leaves the impression that Mitt Romney's business actions led to a woman's cancer death - but at least viewers are seeing an ad that hasn't even been on the air yet. And Bill Clinton can denounce a Romney ad featuring Clinton and his welfare reform - but his point is made: Obama is no Clinton. Ad missions accomplished.

THE BUZZ:

with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

OBAMA JOINS SANDRA FLUKE, PITCHES HEALTH LAW IN PLAY FOR WOMEN VOTERS IN COLORADO. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, trailing rival Mitt Romney in a new Colorado poll, President Obama Wednesday kicked off a two-day swing through the state by aggressively courting women voters with his signature health care law. The vigorous pitch, emphasizing the law's popular benefits for women - from preventive care services without co-pays to mandated insurance coverage for contraceptive care - underscores just how important Democrats believe women voters will be in the battle for November. http://abcn.ws/ S3jnl1

NOTED: ROB PORTMAN GREETS POTUS. It happened at the corner of Frontage Road and Bonforte, ABC's Gregory Simmons reports. As the Romney campaign bus, full of Colorado Republicans and vice presidential short-lister Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, rolled towards its fifth and final stop of the day, there it was. What at first appeared to be a blocked street soon revealed itself to be something far more exciting: It was, perhaps politically providentially, the president's very own motorcade. "So we pulled this big, beautiful bus right up along the road next to where President Obama was coming in just so we could have a proper welcoming for [him] to Pueblo!" Portman told a revved up crowd of around 150 Republican volunteers. http://abcn.ws/O5U423

AL GORE WILL HAVE CONVENTION ROLE - BUT ONLY ON TV. USA Today's Richard Wolf reports: "Former vice president Al Gore will be prominently featured at the Democratic National Convention next month - as a TV anchor. The party's 2000 presidential nominee - winner of the popular vote but loser of the electoral vote to George W. Bush - will anchor coverage for his own Current TV at both the Democratic and Republican conventions." http://usat.ly/ QPf2Xq

FOR A MORMON POLITICAL FIRST, A MORMON BLESSING? The AP's Rachel Zoll reports: "Spiritual leaders will give invocations and benedictions each day at the Republican National Convention. Will Mitt Romney ask anyone from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to offer a blessing? Romney, who will be the first Mormon nominated for president by a major party, never discusses his church while campaigning unless the circumstances require it. Instead, he talks about "my faith" or "shared values" with voters. Organizers are just starting to announce major speakers for the GOP convention, which begins Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla. Mark DeMoss, an evangelical adviser to the Romney campaign, said details about religious leaders will be released about a week in advance." http://apne.ws/ RBtW2G

THE DISAPPEARING UNDECIDED VOTER. Politico's Reid Epstein reports: "President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would like to win over undecided voters - but there just aren't many of them left. So in a super-tight election year, the campaigns are focusing more on appealing to their base voters than on winning new converts, preaching to a choir their teams hope will sing at full volume by Election Day… Gallup's daily tracking poll shows the number of undecided voters hovering between 6 percent and 8 percent - compared with 11 percent at this point in 2008. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put the percentage of undecided voters at 3 percent, down from 12 percent in late July 2008. A Pew survey found 5 percent didn't know who they'd vote for, half of the number at this point in 2008." http://politi.co/RsuW7E

OBAMA, ROMNEY AGREE: GAY BOY SCOUTS OK. ABC's Devin Dwyer and Ann Compton report, President Obama and Mitt Romney have found some new common ground -surprisingly - on an issue of gay rights. Obama on Wednesday joined Romney in publicly disagreeing with a controversial ban on gay members of the Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation's largest and most well-known youth development groups…It's the first time Obama, who was named honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America in 2009, has publicly taken a position on the issue. Romney first voiced support for gay scouts back in 1994 - a position that his campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said remains his position today. http://abcn.ws/O5JmZB

DEMOCRATS LIST TOP HOUSE CANDIDATES. Democrats had a rough time in the 2010 elections for House of Representatives, and this year they have almost nowhere to go but up, reports ABC's Chris Good. On Wednesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) unveiled its list of "Red to Blue" candidates - its top tier of House challengers who, it believes, are poised to win mostly Republican districts in November, bringing Democrats back toward relevance in the House of Representatives after a two-year stint of drastic minority. http://abcn.ws/ O4QFDB

COST OF HEALTH CARE BUMPING PIZZA PRICE? The CEO and founder of Papa John's pizza wants investors to know that when the president's health care law takes effect, the price of pizza is going up with it, reports ABC's Amy Bingham. According to "Papa" John Schnatter, the cost of providing health insurance for all of his pizza chain's uninsured, full-time employees comes out to about 14 cents on a large pizza. That's less than adding an extra topping and a third the price of an extra pepperoncini. If you want that piping hot pie delivered, the $2 delivery fee will cost you 14 times as much as that health insurance price hike. http://abcn.ws/P1H1ji

GOLDMAN SACHS, GE EMPLOYEE DONATIONS MOVE FROM RED TO BLUE. Bloomberg's Jonathan D. Salant reports: "Goldman Sachs Group (GS) employees have changed to red from blue. Four years ago, employees of New York-based Goldman gave three-fourths of their campaign donations to Democratic candidates and committees, including presidential nominee Barack Obama. This time, they're showering 70 percent of their contributions on Republicans. That's the biggest switch among the 25 companies whose employees have given the most to candidates and parties since 1989, according to data through June 30 compiled by Bloomberg from the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign donations. Goldman isn't alone; 13 of the companies' employees are now giving more to Republicans after backing Democrats four years ago." http://bloom.bg/P6nJe8

YOUNG REPUBLICANS ERASE LINES ON SOCIAL ISSUES. The New York Times' Susan Saulny reports: "In a break from generations past and with an eye toward the future, many of the youngest leaders of the Republican Party are embracing views on some social issues that are at odds with traditional conservative ideology - if they mention such issues at all, according to interviews, experts and some polling….And some social conservatives say they are deliberately playing down their own views on issues as a tactical move to attract more young voters to the Republican Party." http://nyti.ms/MBkwDH

IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:

-HOUSE MAJORITY PAC HITS IOWA CONGRESSMAN STEVE KING IN NEW AD. House Majority PAC, the pro-Democratic Super PAC dedicated to House races, has joined forces with the SEIU and the AFSCME to release a new TV ad hitting Iowa Congressman Steve King. The ad, titled "Tough" is the second spot in a joint four-week, $400,000 ad buy in the fourth congressional district, which encompasses the northern central portion of the state. The ad will begin running today in the Des Moines and Sioux City markets, and it will run through August 23rd. The three groups hit King for using taxpayer funds to lease an SUV and voting to raise his own pay, among other things. WATCH: http://bit.ly/NoSuq3

VEEP BEAT:

with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)

- PAWLENTY 'WE'LL KNOW SOON ENOUGH' Campaigning for Mitt Romney in Michigan Wednesday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty gave no clues about his status on the potential VP roster, telling a crowd in Jackson, Mich. that "we'll know soon enough" if Pawlenty is selected for that post, ABC News' Shushannah Walshe reported. "After a brief speech at the opening of a campaign office here, Tim Pawlenty was asked if he would return to Michigan 'when you're vice president.' 'We'll know soon enough," Pawlenty, dressed in shirt sleeves, told the crowd with a chuckle," Walshe wrote. "Hank Choate, the chair of the Jackson County Republicans, asked the former Minnesota governor what his schedule is like Friday, asking a question many of the reporters in the room were trying to determine. Pawlenty answered that he would be in New Hampshire. Pawlenty is doing four events in the state Saturday for the state party and the Romney campaign. Choate then invited Pawlenty to a barbecue here on Sept. 23. ' As the VP, we will welcome you with open arms,' Choate said. Pawlenty then told the crowd of about 30 that Romney 'can't make a bad pick.'" http://abcn.ws/Ndsz81

-MORE FROM TPAW: Pawlenty told reporters at a second stop in Portage, Mich. he would not meet with Romney while in New Hampshire this weekend but demurred when asked if he would visit with Beth Myers, the head of Romney's VP search. http://abcn.ws/MjP0Je

- L.A. MAYOR FINDS PALIN MORE QUALIFIED THAN RUBIO: Democrat Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa knocked Sen. Marco Rubio Wednesday, saying Sarah Palin was more qualified than Rubio to serve as vice president, the Huffington Post's Elise Foley and Howard Fineman reported. "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, one of the most prominent Latino elected officials in the country, said Wednesday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is even less qualified to be vice president than Sarah Palin. 'I would say that I expect that given what happened with Senator McCain, that they're going to go with somebody that has got some chief executive experience,' Villaraigosa, chairman of the Democratic National Convention, told The Huffington Post in an interview," Foley and Fineman wrote. "Asked whether he had meant to compare the two Republicans, the former head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors suggested that Palin was in fact the better prepared. Rubio, Villaraigosa noted, has been in the U.S. Senate for less than two years, while Palin was governor of Alaska when she was picked. 'No, she actually had chief executive experience, if you recall, just not enough of it,' he said." http://huff.to/O6rnCa

Get more pure politics at ABC News.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com

WHO'S TWEETING?

@JHoganGidley : .@priorties2012 's premise is unemployment caused by @MittRomney ='s death; then @BarackObama 's unemployment #'s make him the Grim Reaper

@globeglen : MITT ROMNEY: An update on the VP search, with a priceless Steve Schmidt quote… http://b.globe.com/MkKNoq #mapoli

@nytjim : Nice piece of video on a young Republican in North Carolina about why she's a young Republican. http://nyti.ms/NlaLp

@mattbeynon : @RickSantorum, who wrote the Contract w/ America welfare reform bill & floor manager of 96 Welfare Reform to hold press call 4 @MittRomney

@PolsonKanneth : A very Happy Birthday to @ChrisCuomo!

POLITICAL RADAR

-President Obama continues his tour of Colorado with grassroots campaign events in Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

-Mitt Romney attends fundraisers in New York City and New Jersey.

ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)

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