The youngsters were running the show in Springfield, Va., on Friday, where 42-year-old Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan took the stage after being introduced by two 44-year-olds: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Alabama Rep. Artur Davis…

“We have a very serious choice to make,” Ryan told the crowd. “And what Mitt Romney is offering is to make a decision together.”…

“I heard the president talking about Medicare,” Ryan said. “We want this debate on Medicare. We want this debate, we need this debate and we’re gonna win this debate.”…

“Remember how President Obama used to say we aren’t the blue states or the red states, we’re the United States of America?” Ryan asked. “Remember when he said to put aside childish things and have an adult conversation? We’re still waiting for that adult conversation.”


[A]ides believe there is a way for Romney and Ryan to present a vision of fiscal discipline so starkly different than Obama’s as to provide voters a clear choice, even without all the details.

“At the end of the day,” Rhoades said, “the American people are going to have to decide: Do they want to clean up the mess right now, or do they want to wait another four years, when it’s even worse? Do they want business as usual or do they really want to tackle the big challenges for a change?”

A Romney campaign official added: “I know there are some people in Washington, D.C., that are scared to talk about Medicare. We’re not. We’ve got a million hits on Medicare. We’ll do it for as long as they want. Let’s do it. It’s policy, it’s substance, it’s the future.”


Adding credence to the GOP’s case: Polls conducted in 28 battleground districts for the National Republican Congressional Committee, obtained by National Journal, which suggest Republicans aren’t as vulnerable on the Medicare debate as the conventional wisdom suggests. Their pollsters tested both the Republican message on Ryan’s plan (Ryan’s plan doesn’t touch anyone over 55, preserves Medicare for future generations, invokes ObamaCare), and the Democratic message against it (end Medicare as we know it through voucher system, seniors pay more out of pocket, rates will go up). When the results of all 28 polls were aggregated together, the GOP argument prevailed 46 to 36 percent…

[I]t’s worth remembering that antipathy over Obama’s health care law was as responsible for the Democrats’ historic House losses in 2010 as the weak state of the economy. It’s notable that for Romney’s campaign, the state of the economy has taken a back seat to more ideological arguments in the wake of the Ryan selection — it’s much more consistent with the messages we heard from Congressional Republicans in 2010.

The Romney gamble: Obama’s health care law is even more unpopular than his record on the economy.


In a normal political year, the liberal Mediscare tom-toms might have scared Republicans from this issue, and Mr. Ryan probably would have remained an admired if sidelined Congressman. But Mr. Obama decided via the Affordable Care Act to remake the entire health-care system including Medicare, and thus he also changed the politics.

The destructive policy and unpopularity of ObamaCare have made Paul Ryan’s reform politically possible, meaning that voters may be open to hearing the real choice they face between command and control or private competition and more patient choice. Throw in the lousy economy and the Obama spending and debt binges, and the GOP this year has a chance to win a health-care debate if it goes on offense and contrasts its solutions to Mr. Obama’s.

That’s the real reason liberals and the press corps claim to be so upset by the Romney Medicare ad. By governing so far to the left, Mr. Obama may have neutralized Mediscare and made voters more receptive to center-right solutions. Medicare is already changing because it must. The difference this year is that Republicans have a plan to save it.


“He encourages me. Erskine [Bowles] and I felt he was one of the sharpest guys we dealt with,” Simpson said on Fox News. “He doesn’t have to have a staff member there feeding him stuff and little memos. He can go a half an hour without a note. He knows the issues.”…

“He also said to us — I think a year and a half ago — you know, ‘If we can’t get something done in America, there’s no need for me to smash my head into the wall around here, I have things to do back in Wisconsin,’” Simpson recalled. “And now, this thing [the GOP vice presidential nomination] comes to him, I don’t think he was seeking it, but let me tell you, he becomes a spokesman of hard truth against fakery.”


Republicans should keep this picture in mind. There’s a woman on a porch in eastern Ohio and she has a dog and likes guns and supports the NRA and sees herself as more or less conservative. She assumed she’d vote for Romney and not that big loser in the White House. But she’s hearing about Ryan and she’s hearing the word “cuts.” She knows spending is out of control and she’s worried about deficits and debt. But she’s on disability and her husband’s illness is being handled by Medicare, and she’s wondering: “Do these guys really understand my life? Do they know how it is for us?” She’s getting concerned, and not only for herself but her neighbors and friends. People are not just protective of themselves, they’re loyal to others.

Ryan is associated with the word cutting. Republicans will have to make people believe the word to associate with him is “saving,” that the Romney-Ryan ticket wants to save entitlement programs that aren’t sustainable, that will in time collapse unless we impose ruinous taxes or continue with ruinous deficits…

Republicans should do their own spot, now — one that’s comic and sweet. Grandma in the wheelchair is speeding on a downward slope toward a cliff. She looks terrified. Suddenly a young guy who looks like Clark Kent—that is, like Paul Ryan—springs forward, puts his body between the wheelchair and the edge, and stops it. She looks up at him, smiles, touches his face with her hand. He smiles, turns the chair around and begins to push her back to safety. “Romney-Ryan. Trying to get things back on firm ground.”


At the very least, the Friday event shows that the pick of Ryan has given the GOP grassroots a shot in the arm. Every random Republican voter approached by the Examiner said a variation of the following: Romney was not their first choice, but the Ryan pick laid their lingering qualms to rest.

“He’s got it all,” said Betty-Ann Olson, a self-described Tea Party activist, of Ryan. “I am very pleased.”

“It’s a great choice: I don’t have any doubts,” said Dale Dunn, a former Newt Gingrich supporter.


“Well, I certainly agree that it is a proposal, a serious proposal.”