I came to the same conclusion when I heard Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney’s VP choice…
You’ve heard them on television and read them on POLITICO — cheerful, defiant statements from Republican political professionals about Mitt Romney’s bold masterstroke in tapping Paul Ryan as his running mate, and turning the 2012 presidential race into a serious, far-reaching debate about budgets and the nation’s future.
Don’t buy it.
Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right — and a huge chance of going horribly wrong.
In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.
It is not that the public professions of excitement about the Ryan selection are totally insincere. It is that many of the most optimistic Republican operatives will privately acknowledge that their views are being shaped more by fingers-crossed hope than by a hard-headed appraisal of what’s most likely to happen.
And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races.
Let’s get to the caveats: No one is asserting that Washington operatives in either party are oracles or seers. What’s more, it is not as if there is anything like unanimity in GOP circles about the merits of the Ryan pick, though the mood of anxiety and skepticism is overwhelming.
Most of all, if you are one of those people who thinks if someone has something negative to say, they should have the guts to put their name on it, you won’t find much to impress you in this article. Nearly all the Republican professionals interviewed for this story said they would share their unfiltered views only “on background” rules of attribution.
But Washington political chatter is a pervasive reality even when the chatterers prefer not to risk personal relationships or professional prospects by publicly second-guessing their party’s nominee. For Romney, even if he ultimately proves the doubters wrong, the skepticism among capital insiders is an obstacle as he seeks to frame a general election argument.
And that skepticism about Ryan among GOP strategists is striking.
- Watch: Paul Ryan Heckled at Iowa State Fair (abcnews.go.com)
- GOP pros fret over Ryan (politico.com)
- Howard Fineman: Ryan For VP Doesn’t Please Every Conservative (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Case Against Lyin Paul Ryan (theobamacrat.com)
- GOP concerned Ryan could cost party House and Senate seats (thehill.com)
- Wall Street’s Big Concern: Can Ryan Help Romney Win? (cnbc.com)
- Why Ryan Is Risky (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)