Unleash the Running Mate!

Posted: September 24, 2012 in 2008 Elections, 2012 Elections, Mitt Romney, Politics
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”
Julius Caesar; Act 3, Scene 1

From today’s New York Times (emphasis mine):

Through the halls of Congress and well beyond, a whisper campaign is bursting into the open: Rather than burden him with the usual constraints on a ticket’s No. 2 not to upstage or get ahead of the presidential nominee, let Ryan be Ryan and take a detailed, policy-heavy fight to President Obama and the Democrats.

Also see this writeup in the Washington Post; September 21, 2012 (again, emphasis mine):

“I was enthused when Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan because I thought that was a signal that this guy was getting serious, he was getting bold,” Walker said. “I just haven’t seen that kind of passion I know that Paul has transferred over to our nominee.” The governor suggested that “pushback from some of the folks in the national campaign” was restraining the Wisconsin congressman from making detailed policy arguments.

That rang a few bells… Sure enough, after doing some digging on Google, I found these (all emphasis in the block quotes mine):

CNN; September 29, 2008:

The New York Times conservative columnist Bill Kristol argued in his column on Monday that McCain must “liberate his running mate from the former Bush aides brought in to handle her — aides who seem to have succeeded in importing to the Palin campaign the trademark defensive crouch of the Bush White House.
“McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she’s a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice,” Kristol wrote.

Washington Times; September 30, 2008:

At critical moments before and during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, his admirers would urge that he be allowed to be himself – rather than the far less authentic and appealing facsimile served up by his handlers.

“Let Reagan be Reagan,” they would urge, confident the man would fare well if left to his own talents and judgment. Time and time again that proved to be the case as his common-man qualities, native intelligence and utter decency allowed him to connect with and secure the support of the American people.

This lesson is worth recalling now, on the eve of a possibly make-or-break vice presidential debate between Republican Sarah Palin and her Democratic rival, Sen. Joseph Biden. The outcome – and the fate of the Republican ticket – may turn on whether her handlers “Let Palin be Palin.”

Wall Street Journal; September 29, 2008:

“It’s time to let Palin be Palin — and let it all hang out,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist.

The Weekly Standard; September 8, 2008:

Let Palin Be Palin
Why the left is scared to death of McCain’s running mate.

Mitt Romney on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”; September 29, 2008:

“Holding Sarah Palin to just three interviews and microscopically focusing on each interview I think has been a mistake. I think they’d be a lot wiser to let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin. Let her talk to the media, let her talk to people.”

To be fair, I did a similar search for news articles, columns, and pundits who were saying “Let Edwards be Edwards” during the 2004 campaign, and didn’t find any.

I’m not comparing Paul Ryan to Sarah Palin on a direct one-on-one basis. Rather, I’m pointing out that the underlying dynamics in both campaigns – a running mate who is more popular with the base than the nominee of a campaign that is not going well – are uncanny. If this continues, it will not be a good sign for the Romney campaign during the final six weeks before Election Day.

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