“We turned a national election into a school-board race”
Even inside Romney’s campaign, some advisers worried Ryan would be identified too closely with his proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program, an idea that could alienate seniors critical in Florida.
Those concerns translated into disagreements between Ryan and the leadership in Boston. One week after his selection, Ryan, on his own, gave a speech about Medicare to residents of the Villages, a city-size retirement community in central Florida.
“We want this debate. We need this debate. We will win this debate,” he declared.
To the relief of Romney’s advisers, the debate never materialized. But they did not allow Ryan to set the agenda again.
As part of his role, Ryan had wanted to talk about poverty, traveling to inner cities and giving speeches that laid out the Republican vision for individual empowerment. But Romney advisers refused his request to do so, until mid-October, when he gave a speech on civil society in Cleveland.
As one adviser put it, “The issues that we really test well on and win on are not the war on poverty.”
Ryan did not complain publicly. But he later had reason to.