I like the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. First, I couldn’t help noticing his initials. But Paul Ryan is a different kind of “game changer” in the presidential sweepstakes. Unlike the GOP’s Sarah Palin, Ryan’s change brings more substance to the campaign conversation.
Sarah Palin energized the 2008 ticket with her personal charisma, but her inability to articulate policy became punch lines and a public relations nightmare. Paul Ryan will likely be very different. While he is charismatic, he’s all about policy, which makes him appealing to GOP supporters frustrated with Romney’s wishy-washy tendencies. I’m happy about Ryan’s Tea Party-pleasing positions. Maybe this campaign will indeed become more about how to govern rather than a focus on personalities.
This isn’t to say that Paul Ryan won’t play political gamesmanship and use tried-and-true PR techniques just like any other candidate. This past week’s focus has been on Ryan’s plan to move Medicare to a voucher-based system, which sends shivers down a lot of senior spines. So yesterday he appeared alongside his 78 year-old mother–in Florida, of course–to prove that his vision for Medicare won’t hurt them. The not-so-subtle message here is that Paul Ryan wouldn’t do anything that could hurt his own mother and people in her demographic category.
Some may call this spin, but it’s really just part of the chess game we call campaigning. Candidates traditionally trot out family members to humanize their policies and bring in votes. (Watch for how often you’ll see popular First Lady Michelle Obama in the coming weeks; she did several appearances in recent days including teaming with Olympics superstar Gabby Douglas on the “Tonight Show”.) But despite the obvious use of imagery as a tool of persuasion, I like that we’re talking about Medicare and the budget and who’s paying how much in taxes. Ultimately, game changer Sarah Palin and her outsized personality hurt the GOP ticket. I hope that Paul Ryan’s conservative policies become a significant part of the discussion. Your thoughts?