The Wall Street Journal says that Romney wanted to pair up criticism of the Obama economy with Paul Ryan’s reform plan.
Mr. Romney is signaling that he realizes he needs a mandate if he is elected, which means putting his reform ideas before the American people for a clear endorsement. He is treating the public like grown-ups, in contrast to President Obama’s focus on divisive and personal character attacks.
The Ryan choice also suggests that Mr. Romney understands that to defeat Mr. Obama he’ll have to do more than highlight the President’s economic failures. He must also show Americans that he has a tangible, specific reform agenda that will produce faster growth and rising incomes.
Mr. Ryan is well equipped to help him promote such an agenda. The seven-term Congressman grew up in the GOP’s growth wing and supply-side ranks as a protege of Jack Kemp. Far from being a typical House Republican, he was a dissenter from the Tom DeLay do-little Congress in the last decade. He began talking about his reform blueprint in the George W. Bush years when everyone said he was committing political suicide.
[…]In Mr. Ryan, [Democrats] face a conservative advocate who knows the facts and philosophy of his arguments. He is well-liked and makes his case with a cheerful sincerity that can’t easily be caricatured as extreme. He carries his swing Wisconsin district easily though it often supports Democrats for President.
This may be why, in his meetings with House Republicans, Mr. Obama has always shied away from directly debating Mr. Ryan on health care and spending. He changed the subject or moved on to someone else. The President knows that Mr. Ryan knows more about the budget and taxes than he does, and that the young Republican can argue the issues in equally moral terms.
In moral terms, just like Arthur Brooks of the AEI urges conservatives to do.
The conclusion of the article explains Romney’s strategy:
In his remarks on Saturday in Norfolk, Mr. Ryan also hit on what is likely to be an emerging Romney theme: leadership that tells Americans the truth. “We will honor you, our fellow citizens, by giving you the right and opportunity to make the choice,” he said. “What kind of country do we want to have? What kind of people do we want to be?”
The underlying assumption is that at this moment of declining real incomes and national self-doubt, Americans won’t fall for the same old easy demagoguery. They want to hear serious ideas debated seriously. The contrast couldn’t be greater with a President who won’t run on his record and has offered not a single idea for a second term.
In choosing Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney is betting that Americans know how much trouble their country is in, and that they will reward the candidate who pays them the compliment of offering solutions that match the magnitude of the problems.
Another editorial in the WSJ agrees that Ryan is there to provide a positive agenda.
Mr. Ryan provides the crucial shift in emphasis, the opportunity to go on offense. We will now have a focus on, and explanation of, the choice between stagnation and renewal. This is what Mr. Ryan excels at—not just crafting ideas, but explaining them in a positive and serious way. This ability is why the congressman—despite his supposedly extremist reform blueprint and budget (says the left)—has continued to win a district that in 2010 went for Mr. Obama.
[…]The first pitch to… voters came with Mr. Romney’s introduction of Mr. Ryan on Saturday, in which the campaign made clear it intends to use this pick as a way of underlining the intellectual poverty of the Obama campaign. Mr. Romney spoke of Mr. Ryan’s “integrity,” his “seriousness,” his “intellectual leadership,” and his refusal to “demonize his opponents”—traits for which Mr. Ryan is well-known.
The introduction was designed to highlight the Obama campaign’s own relentless smear attacks, and its focus on the trivial. This is the first sign of Mr. Ryan’s influence, since the strategy is clearly modeled on the congressman’s own history of winning on ideas against opponents who resort to cheap attack.
My own view of this pick of Ryan is that he is exactly what the country needs. When you contrast Paul Ryan with a typical Democrat like that Georgetown feminist student who demanded that the taxpayers provide her with free contraceptives, then we win.
My previous post on Paul Ryan has some clips of him engaging with Democrats. He’s very, very good at it.