Election could be referendum on Ryan budget

Mitt Romney joined crowds cheering, "Paul, Paul, Paul" for his new running mate Sunday in North Carolina, but a panel of journalists and pundits on "Face the Nation" raised some issues about Romney's vice presidential choice.

The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus isn't a huge fan, saying the choice "feels like Sarah Palin with substance and a paper trail." That paper trail is Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," a controversial budget plan that calls for $5 trillion in spending cuts and dramatically reduces the size of government.

And because Romney picked Ryan, Marcus said it's clear that Romney really believes in the conservative budget mastermind's vision of America.

That's something all panelists agreed could be risky, especially for Romney, who has been light on specifics when it comes to his policy proposals. Democratic strategist Bob Shrum said the rule after this campaign will be to never pick a man with a plan - having a plan forces that plan to be front and center in the campaign.

"I think the rule we're going to come up with after this one is never pick a man with a plan, because in guy-- this guy is going to become front and center in this campaign," Shrum suggested. "It's almost going to be the Ryan/Romney ticket instead of the other way around."

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yan's plan won't help Ryan with Hispanics, women or seniors insisted Shrum. All three groups are areas Romney has struggled to gain traction. But the Washington Post's Michael Gerson didn't entirely agree that the Ryan plan was a demographic risk for the ticket. He said that Ryan talks about the fiscal crisis and tax reform, and his whole message is growth-oriented. That's a message, he said, Ryan can take to "lots" of demo groups.

"I think he can take that message, which he's really good at, to the Hispanic community, to working-class voters, to a lot of other people," Gerson said. "It's a hope-oriented, opportunity message that Paul brings. And they need to get him out there on that message."

Despite the risks of tying a campaign to the Ryan budget, Marcus and Newsweek's David Frum agree that if anyone can sell the Ryan plan, it's the man himself.

"I think the best advocate for the Ryan plan is Paul Ryan," Marcus said. "So, if you're going to run on the Ryan plan, you might as well run with Paul Ryan."

The man himself, is pretty likable according to some on the panel. Gerson pointed out that Ryan has won seven congressional elections in a pretty evenly divided district.

And likability, according to Politico's Roger Simon, is what it's going to come down to in November - not wonky budget plans.

"I'll say it-- it will be about likability, because no matter what else you say, go back through history, the more likable candidate almost always wins," said Simon. "And this is why Mitt Romney had to take a risk. He wasn't that likable."

  • Alicia Budich

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