Governor Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has reshaped the entire presidential campaign. Romney could have played it safe with Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota or Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. Alternatively, he could have made Florida an easier state to win by picking that state's tremendously popular and charismatic senator, Marco Rubio. Instead, in selecting Ryan, he has made this election a big election about big issues, the future economic direction of the country, and how substantial a role the federal government will play in Americans' daily lives in the future.
On April 1, 2012, I wrote the following words in a USA Today column:
The most fateful decision Romney will make between now and the election, if nominated, is his running mate. He must pick a well-known social conservative. Sen. Marco Rubio, the gifted and charismatic senator from Florida, would be a very popular and energizing choice. There are others as well who could be chosen. However, if Romney really wanted to provide Americans with a stark contrast and a crystal clear choice about their future, he could pick Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Ticket sales would be brisk for a Ryan-Biden debate.
Well, Romney has made the bold choice. In doing so, he has made it clear that he is not playing small ball in this presidential election, but instead is swinging for the fences.
The 2012 election is now, more than ever, a "fork-in-the-road" election, with the American people presented with a clear and forthright choice between restoring the historic balance between the federal government and society with federal spending hovering at just over 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as it has since the end of World War II, or continuing an upward path from President Obama's current 24 percent of GDP with the higher taxes and low growth that will entail.
On social issues, Paul Ryan, a devout Roman Catholic, is rock-solid on pro-life issues, garnering a 100 percent pro-life rating from the National Right to Life Committee. He also supported a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution to defend marriage as only between one man and one woman.
Paul Ryan is widely acknowledged to be one of the brightest and most articulate people in the entire Congress. Some are criticizing his comparative youth. At age 42, he is four years older than Franklin Roosevelt when he was picked as James Cox's running mate in 1920 and a year older than Franklin's cousin Theodore was when he was nominated as President William McKinley's running mate in 1900. Furthermore, Ryan has been in Congress seven terms (14 years) and is the acknowledged expert in Congress on the federal budget.
The big attack on Ryan focuses on how his budget proposals would impact Medicare. His critics say he wants to end Medicare "as we know it." Really? Medicare as we have known it was ended by Obamacare which cuts $700 billion from Medicare to help fund Obamacare. Unless reformed, the program is destined for bankruptcy in a dozen years. Congressman Ryan's reform proposal (co-sponsored by Oregon's Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden) would change nothing for any American currently 55 or older. For people in that demographic, the Medicare system remains the same. For younger Americans, they would have a choice of staying with traditional Medicare or opting for vouchers to purchase health care in the private market.
With the selection of Paul Ryan, Gov. Romney has driven a stake through the heart of the "Mitt the Cautious" myth and has replaced it with a "Mitt the Bold" narrative.
Now more than ever this election is a clear and compelling choice about the future direction of America.
Pass the popcorn. Game on! And interest in the Ryan-Biden debate on October 11 is accelerating daily.