Romney Takes A Risk - The Right Gets Ryan (The Note)

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


  • IT'S OFFICIAL: After months of speculation, rumors - and even some subtle deception on the part of the Romney campaign (who can forget Condi Rice's star turn on the Drudge Report?) - presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has made his running mate official. "Mitt Romney today announced Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate," read the press release that the Romney campaign blasted out just after 7:00 a.m. Romney will appear with Ryan in Norfolk, Va. this morning at a rally at the Nauticus Museum.
  • WHAT RYAN WILL SAY:According to an excerpt of the newly-minted VP's prepared remarks: "Mitt Romney is a leader with the skills, the background and the character that our country needs at a crucial time in its history. Following four years of failed leadership, the hopes of our country, which have inspired the world, are growing dim; and they need someone to revive them. Governor Romney is the man for this moment; and he and I share one commitment: we will restore the dreams and greatness of this country. … I am committed, in mind and heart, to putting that experience to work in a Romney Administration. This is a crucial moment in the life of our nation; and it is absolutely vital that we select the right man to lead America back to prosperity and greatness. That man is standing next to me. His name is Mitt Romney. And he will be the next president of the United States."
  • THE SCENE: As of an hour before the Norfolk rally, no signs or banners bearing Ryan's nameor a Romney-Ryan logo were visible at the event site. A small crowd had lined up outside as early as 5:30 a.m., and event workers were still setting up with an hour to spare. The crowd has grown larger by the minute. The Romney motorcade arrives at the event site at about 8:23 a.m., but there was still so sign of Ryan.
  • RYAN SLIPS PAST REPORTERS: ABC's Jonathan Karl reports that despite the media's best attempts to keep tabs on the Wisconsin congressman at his home in Janesville, Wisc. yesterday, Ryan managed to slip away undetected. As of early Saturday morning, Ryan was already in Virginia ahead of this morning's announcement.
  • NEW TO TWITTER: @PaulRyanVP ("@PaulRyanVP hasn't tweeted yet.")
  • RYAN REWIND: When asked in a late April interview if he would take the job of VP if offered, Ryan told ABC's Jonathan Karl: "I haven't given it the kind of serious consideration one really has to give such a question." Take a look back at this April 30 edition of the ABC News/Yahoo News web series "Spinners and Winners": Karl: "If Mitt Romney asks you, do you do it?" Ryan: "I don't know. I mean, that requires so much more careful thought and prayer with your family and yourself. I haven't given it the kind of serious consideration one really has to give such a question. Because it's somebody else's decision, months from now, as to whether you're even gonna be presented with that opportunity or not. Karl: "Are you willing to be vetted?" Ryan: "I don't worry about that sort of thing. That doesn't bother me." WATCH:


NORFOLK, Va. - In picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney decided to play against type. Gone is the image of the risk-averse manager who just wanted to try and run out the clock until November, notes ABC News Political Director Amy Walter.

In its place is a candidate who is willing to embrace a running mate who has taken bold - and very controversial - positions on two of the most hot-button issues in politics: Social Security and Medicare.

THE RISK IS OBVIOUS: This race is now fought on territory that has long been favorable to Democrats. Voters trust Democrats more on issues relating to entitlement programs and are inherently suspicious of Republicans on the issue.

THE REWARDS ARE LESS CLEAR: In picking Ryan, the Romney campaign is gambling that a debate on substance is thing that voters are hungry for. It is also an acknowledgement that a campaign fought on the terrain and issues that it has been for the last few weeks is not one that they can win.

After a summer defined by attack ads over tax returns, outsourcing and reproductive rights, Romney heads into his party's convention with the highest negative ratings of any presidential nominee in recent memory.

Moreover, the knife-fight of a campaign has left voters frustrated and disillusioned. There's no guarantee that simply drawing more blood between now and November will give Romney any sort of boost.

Instead, Romney has decided to meet voters where they are - frustrated and confused - and looking for someone to give them a straight answer. Now the question is whether the "take your medicine" approach that Ryan has been promoting is the answer they wanted.

Romney, of course, 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 statewide.

After a summer that has been dominated by the petty and the profane, Romney has decided that he'd like to try and move the debate to substance. It's a worthy goal, but it's going to be a tough sell.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Mitt Romney managed to use his vice-presidential choice to be surprising - something that redefines the race. It's a huge outward signal that the first assumptions of the race - that it's a coin flip, that Romney's biography would speak for itself, that making it a referendum on President Obama would be enough - no longer hold true. Ryan is adding a big weapon to the race - and Romney's danger is that it could be turned on himself. More from Klein about how Ryan could ignite an ideological war:

THE RIGHT REJOICES: "Paul Ryan is a GOP dream date for the biggest dance in politics," Republican strategist Joe Brettell told The Note. "He's Jack Kemp wonky, Ronald Reagan articulate and a real family man all wrapped up in a blue-eyed, P90x built frame."


-ROMNEY CALLED PORTMAN. By early Saturday morning, short-list VP contender Sen. Rob Portman had been informed he was not to be Romney's running mate, ABC's Gregory Simmons reported: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called Portman to inform him he had not been selected to join the Republican presidential ticket, a Republican familiar with the situation told ABC News. Portman told ABC News he would remain in Columbus, Ohio, Friday night and will continue with his plans to complete a 100-mile bike ride to raise money and awareness for curing cancer Saturday morning. So while Romney rolls out his running mate - expected to be Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. - in Norfolk, Va., Portman will be rolling down a road somewhere between Columbus and Gambier, Ohio, with his son, Will, 20.

-PAWLENTY SAYS HE'S NOT DISAPPOINTED. The other top contender thought to be on Romney's short list, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, did not learn the news from Romney himself, ABC's Shushannah Walshe reported after speaking with Pawlenty early Saturday morning: Pawlenty, joined by his wife Mary, said 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. Although Romney did not talk to Pawlenty on Friday, he did have contact with another Romney. The presumptive GOP nominee's eldest son Tagg attended the high dollar fundraiser with Pawlenty and his wife.

DEMOCRATS REACT: How are Democrats and the Obama campaign reacting to the Ryan pick? ABC's Devin Dwyer reports that top campaign officials say this morning that they will not comment until after Romney formally announces in Virginia.

But as noted last night, Democrats are primed and ready for this announcement after months of oppo research on potential nominees - including on Paul Ryan, someone who they believe is a toxic choice and politically extreme. A top Democrat with ties to the Obama campaign this morning privately characterized Ryan this way, hinting at the message we will see in the days ahead:

-"He has capitulated to the extreme in his party."

-"Recognize that only 35 percent of his supporters were voting FOR him"

-"He causes problems across demos in our polling."

-"He is not a reformer, but an ideologue who will do anything to preserve tax cuts for the wealthiest."

-"Also, remember that he opposed Simpson Bowles because it had revenue in it."

FROM THE LEFT: 'PAUL RYAN IS A RIGHT WING EXTREMIST'. If you want an early preview of how the liberal left sees Romney's choice, just take a look at this scathing statement from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a 1 million member grassroots organization: "Paul Ryan is a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney," the Committee's co-founder Adam Green said in a statement. "It gives President Obama and Democrats a chance to draw a clear contrast in 2012 by promising not to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security benefits. If Democrats win in a landslide, this was the game changer."

DEMOCRATIC SUPER PAC COUNTER-PROGRAMS: With Mitt Romney announcing that Paul Ryan will be his VP pick, Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21 st Century, has launched a new web site featuring hundreds of pages of research on Ryan as well as hours and hours of tracking footage.

TICK TOCK: HOW THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT SLOWLY TRICKLED OUT. At roughly 7:08am the Mitt Romney VP app officially alerted the country of Romney's pick for VP: Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. But the announcement really began through a different new media venture on Friday night- twitter.

Around 11pm Friday night Romney's communications director Gail Gitcho tweeted: @ MittRomney will announce his VP pick tomorrow in Norfolk. Download the VP app to be the first to know. # Mitt2012 .

-Shortly after, the Romney campaign sent out an official release announcing that Mitt Romney would be unveiling his pick for the number two spot on Saturday morning on the USS Wisconsin. Initial reports indicated that it was Paul Ryan. Plus, the choice of the USS Wisconsin seemed to be a sign. Then the rejection notifications began to come in.

-At roughly 12:15pm ABC's Shush Walshe, who has been covering Tim Pawlenty for the past several weeks, reported that Pawlenty told her he was not the pick. Then news came in that it wasn't Ohio Senator Rob Portman. ABC's Gregory Simmons reported from Columbus, Ohio that a Republican source familiar with the situation told ABC News that Romney had called Portman himself to inform him that he had not been selected to join the ticket.

-Hours passed by throughout the night, while reporters staked out the homes of Ryan, and Pawlenty and Portman, as well as the venue in Norfolk, Virginia where Romney will be making the announcement. Airports in the surrounding areas were monitored, and the question as to whether or not Ryan was actually home was not clear to anyone.

-Then, finally, as the sun was creeping up, the app alert went out. "Mitt's choice for VP is Paul Ryan. Spread the word about America's Comeback Team. #RomneyRyan2012? it said.

9 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT PAUL RYAN: Romney's VP pick is known for his budget acumen - the young chairman of the House Budget Committee is a policy wonk whose fiscal ideas are well documented. But there's more to the Wisconsin Congressman than just numbers. Here's a list of nine things you might now know about Paul Ryan, courtesy of ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield.

1.) He's relatively young at 42, but he got an early start in politics. He was elected to represent Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District in Congress at 28.

2.) His campaign experience extends beyond his own candidacy for Congress. He was a speechwriter for Jack Kemp in 1996, when Kemp was the vice-presidential candidate.

3.) He's had a number of odd jobs. He worked in college as an Oscar-Mayer salesman one summer and once drove the Weinermobile. As a congressional staffer in Washington, he worked as a trainer at Washington Sport and Health Club.

4.) He has credited novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand as the reason he got into public service.

5.) He's a strong fundraiser. By the end of March, Ryan had brought in $3.1 million for this election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Only five House candidates had surpassed him.

6.) His father died from a heart attack when Ryan was 16. Ryan was the person who discovered his father after he had died.

7.) He's worth at least $1.9 million, according to his financial disclosure reports from 2011. His only debt? A mortgage of at least $250,000 on his home.

8.) In high school, he was voted prom king. He was also voted "biggest brown-noser."

9.) His real love besides numbers crunching? Bowhunting, or hunting animals by archery.


with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

MITT ROMNEY GOES BOLD WITH CHOICE OF PAUL RYAN AS RUNNING MATE. The Boston Globe's Glen Johnson reports: "In the end, Mitt Romney did what many experienced politicos believed he would not do. He went bold. In deciding to tap US Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his vice presidential running mate, Romney eschewed the perception of a "safe" choice in the form of US Senator Rob Portman of Ohio - and tempted comparisons to the ill-fated 2008 selection of Sarah Palin by nominating a candidate largely untested on the national stage. For perspective, the 42-year-old Ryan is just two months older than Mitt and Ann Romney's eldest son, Tagg. In announcing his choice today, as he did officially with a smartphone app and campaign statement, Romney also dared overshadow the final day of competition in his beloved Olympics, as well as their multimillion-dollar closing ceremonies in London on Sunday, with saturation coverage of his own news."

WITH RYAN, ROMNEY CLARIFIES THE 2012 CHOICE. Time's Michael Crowley notes: "In choosing the 42-year-old conservative budget guru, Romney eschewed the 'safe' choice many political insiders had expected, opting instead to 'go bold.' He turned to a rising star whose fiscal vision dazzles the right while energizing Democrats who say they relish the chance to run against him. As a result, the 2012 election is likely to shift from a narrow debate about the state of the economy to a much broader one about the size and role of government in America. Running mates rarely shift the trajectory of a presidential campaign. This time could be different."

RYAN PICK SHARPENS ROMNEY DUEL WITH OBAMA OVER FISCAL POLICY. Bloomberg's Brian Faler reports: "Mitt Romney's selection of U.S. Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate sharpens a race Republicans have sought to cast as a referendum on President Barack Obama's economic record into a contest between two radically different visions of the government's role. As House Budget Committee Chairman, Ryan has called for changes in fiscal policy that include overhauling Medicare, slashing federal spending on the poor and cutting taxes on the wealthy. Those ideas will now take center stage in the months leading up to election. It's a contest of ideas that Ryan, 42, will likely relish, having long argued to fellow Republicans that it isn't enough for them to criticize the administration's record. He wants voters to choose between two competing agendas in hopes that the winner in November will have a mandate to make sweeping changes."

HIS PRESENCE ON TEAM ROMNEY WOULD 'IMPROVE TEAM ROMNEY IMMENSELY.' Red State's Erick Erickson wrote on Friday night: "No offense, but I intend to be sleeping at 9am tomorrow when Mitt Romney makes his Vice Presidential announcement at the USS Wisconsin.// If it is Ryan, I'll be quite happy. His departure from Congress would improve both Congress and the Romney campaign. It would improve Congress because too many people tend to lionize him when his record has some flaws. His presence often drowns out competing ideas that may be better and/or more conservative. His presence on Team Romney would improve Team Romney immensely. Team Romney has, since the primary, had problem making the moral case for freedom and free market. Paul Ryan is articulate and passionate on the issue. Likewise, the GOP, even in polls having Romney behind Obama, often leads on issues of the economy and debt. Those two issues are at the heart of Paul Ryan's ideas."

FLASHBACK: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, AUGUST 8TH: WHY NOT PAUL RYAN? "The whispering over Mitt Romney's choice of a running mate is getting louder, and along with it we are being treated to the sotto voce angst of the GOP establishment: Whatever else Mitt does, he wouldn't dare pick Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, would he? Too risky, goes the Beltway chorus. His selection would make Medicare and the House budget the issue, not the economy. The 42-year-old is too young, too wonky, too, you know, serious. Beneath it all you can hear the murmurs of the ultimate Washington insult-that Mr. Ryan is too dangerous because he thinks politics is about things that matter. That dude really believes in something, and we certainly can't have that. All of which highly recommend him for the job."

BILL KRISTOL'S INVOKES JFK. The Weekly Standard's William Kristol notes: "One of the first political events I vaguely remember (I was eight years old) is listening on the radio to John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address. When I woke up this morning, this passage was echoing in my head. It needs a bit of updating-but I think it captures the spirit of the Ryan pick: 'And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe-the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.'"


@Reince : Congratulations to my good friend @RepPaulRyan! A great choice, and will be an amazing Vice President. #RomneyRyan2012

@marcorubio : @MittRomney has made a great choice picking @RepPaulRyan for #VP. Get the app & follow #Americascomebackteam #MITT2012

@JFKucinich : Just saw Carl Cameron chugging a red bull in the security line … Going to be that kind of day cc: @ZekeJMiller

@DaveWalkerCAI : Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate is a bold choice. The role of government and fiscal issues will be a top priority. DW

@rickklein : lunch with some top Dem operatives a few months ago - who do you want Romney to pick? no pause: "PAUL RYAN."


-Mitt Romney introduced his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, at a morning event in Norfolk, Va. before the Republican ticket makes several other stop in Virginia, including in Ashland and Manassas.

- President Obama has no public events today but will be flying to Chicago later this afternoon.

- Vice President Joe Biden is at home in Delaware.

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