Quotes of the day

[I]f Florida seniors were thinking rationally and self-interestedly, this Democratic attack would flop.

Paul Ryan is proposing no changes to Medicare for another 10 years, so anyone currently 55 or older wouldn’t be affected at all.

And if you assume that the law won’t get passed for a couple years, you can safely assume this issue is 100% irrelevant to anyone 53 or older…

Paul Ryan — in advocating hard money and entitlement reforms that don’t kick in for over a decade — is taking the side of seniors.


The secret of Paul Ryan is that he is a blend of the two; philosophically a small-government conservative, managerially a fiscal conservative.

He wants to reduce the size of government for the reasons the Tea Party elucidated — that Big Government saps individual initiative and is a betrayal of the rights enumerated in the Constitution. But he has also mastered the language and the approach of the fiscal conservatives, and has used them to get very specific about the threat posed to the American future by the coming tsunami in entitlement spending.

Ryan is able to put on the green eyeshade of the fiscal conservatives while speaking in the moral frame of the small-government conservatives. Doesn’t sound like it’s that much of a challenge, but no one else has been able to pull it off with his clarity and grace.

That’s what’s new about Paul Ryan — and it’s why liberals have reason to fear the clarity and power of his message.


Bob White, Mitt Romney’s partner at Bain Capital and close campaign confidante, gave Paul Ryan the ultimate compliment. “We would have hired him at Bain,” he told a campaign colleague. The buoyant 42-year-old Ryan did look a bit like the junior partner in the duo’s first sit-down interview with Bob Schieffer on 60 Minutes, matching Romney with a checked shirt and blazer. As Ryan kicked off his first two days of campaigning he was crisp, effective, and eager to show that the boss’ confidence was not misplaced. “We know who we are. We know what we believe. Now let’s go do it,” said Ryan Sunday…

As Mark Halperin has expertly detailed, the Romney team produced a nearly flawless Ryan roll-out. The pitch is that these two men are a kind of Geek Squad for the nation: efficient problem solvers who love numbers and analysis. Romney has the executive skills and Ryan knows every inch of the budget, so together they will turn around the country. The pitch spans the generations: Romney, who seems like a man of the ’50s, linking up with the first man on a national ticket from Generation X.

Ryan wasn’t the only beaming new guy on stage this weekend. The man at the top of the ticket seemed like a fresh presence too. “Ryan jacks him up,” said a campaign adviser. Romney is looser on the stump, at one point leading a cheer of “Paul! Paul! Paul!” He’s clearly pleased with his pick.


One way to think about the new race is in scientific terms. Romney has abandoned a strategy that relied on political mechanics in favor of one that relies on political chemistry.

A mechanical campaign aims to motivate certain identifiable blocs of voters through specific and well-rehearsed techniques — targeted appeals to well-defined demographic or geographic groups, designed to work in a classic action-reaction style.

Politics as chemistry is different. It seeks to change the relationship between the candidate and the electorate in a more fundamental way — encouraging voters to look at him and his capacity for leadership in a entirely new light, just as adding a new ingredient to a chemical solution can create an entirely new substance. For a campaign, this transformation is as much a psychological exercise as a narrowly political one…

“What I’m struck by is how the Republican campaign seems to be about big issues and big message — the state of the economy. The president’s campaign is about groups — women, minorities, ramping up turnout. It’s two different approaches,” agreed Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary under George W. Bush.


Picking Ryan answers some questions that so far Romney had not been able to address: Who is Mitt Romney and what does he stand for? The answer is that he is a business-oriented, pro-enterprise Republican who stands for limited government, budgetary discipline and entitlement reform. The more Democrats attack the choice of a “radical” running mate, the more they contribute to Romney’s rebranding. Indeed, the more widely Dems denounce Ryan as an extremist, they more they undercut the very telling line of attack that Romney is a man without convictions who will say and do anything to get elected. The more this looks like a gutsy, bold and ideological choice, the more Mitt Romney looks like a bold and principled leader rather than a flip flopping politician. More, as Michael Barone perceptively noted, Romney’s personal experience and skills at Bain involve the kind of numbers-crunching analysis that an election over the financial trajectory of the federal government will involve. Romney hasn’t wanted to talk about being governor of Massachusetts and most Americans don’t have a clear picture of what investment bankers do. That makes him Mr. Nobody from Nowhere — unless the election turns on issues where his experience in turnarounds and financial workouts becomes suddenly relevant.


Via the Corner.