Posts Tagged ‘Paul Ryan’

Final poll numbers are coming out in the few days before the election. There’s a good recap of the numbers by Political Wire here and here. The signs are not looking good for Team Romney, according to Taegan Goddard’s Twitter account:

  • Movement toward Obama in nearly every national poll released today.
  • Latest USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states shows a tie. Romney held a four point lead a month ago.
  • 18 new swing state polls today so far. Romney leads in just 4.
  • Publicly, the Romney campaign is bullish about its chances on Tuesday, as evidenced by surrogates who appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows today. However, when granted anonymity, they tend to hedge their bets:

    CBS News:

    Romney’s advisers know it’s now anyone’s guess. “A knife fight in the phone booth,” is a phrase you hear a lot. One adviser this morning was even more candid: “I’m not saying (Mr. Obama) is definitely going to lose.”

    But the advisers see comparable concern and tension in the Obama campaign, for all of its own outward displays of confidence.

    “We’re the challengers. We always knew we could lose,” one aide told me here in Dubuque. “They never contemplated they could lose.”

    The Associated Press:

    But Ryan’s biggest boosters realize he probably can write his own ticket, win or lose on Nov. 6.

    These Ryan allies spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private proposals they were preparing for him. They insist Ryan is not worried about anything beyond the election and is not planning anything except being a governing partner to Romney.

    They say that if he fails, Ryan’s instincts will be to return to the House — he is running for re-election to his House seat at the same time he’s Romney’s running mate — and resume his role as Budget Committee chairman.

    Some senior Republicans caution it might not be that easy.

    If Romney loses, Ryan will be seen as a leading White House contender in 2016. He will be a national party figure even without being a top member of the House leadership. That could breed resentment among current Republican leaders and perhaps splinter coalitions within the already fractured GOP alliances at the top of the House.

    A return also would make Ryan a leading target for Democrats. For the next few years, Democrats would lay traps in legislation, forcing him to take sides on measures that could come back to haunt him during a presidential bid.

    That is why some of Ryan’s biggest boosters are considering whether it wouldn’t be better for Ryan to resign from the House. He could write a book — “saving America” is a theme often bandied about — or teach at a university.

    After all, on the campaign trail, Ryan is as much lecturer as campaigner. Aides routinely set up giant video screens so Ryan can use visual aids to walk audiences through the minutiae of budget politics. Graphs and charts are as common as yard signs and American flags at some events, with Ryan settling into his role as explainer in chief.

    It’s no accident he embraces the “wonk” label aggressively. It could make him an attractive figure as a guest lecturer or visiting professor.

    Or Ryan could set up an office at a Washington think tank and focus on issues that interest him. That would give him a platform to shape public policy without the frustrations of electoral politics.

    Republicans are also preemptively blaming Sandy for a possible Romney loss on Tuesday. See these comments from Karl Rove in the Washington Post:

    “If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the [Mitt] Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney’s] advantage,” Rove told The Washington Post.

    Rove, who served as George W. Bush’s deputy White House chief of staff, said that in the wake of the storm, there are “advantages and a minor disadvantage” for the president as well as a “subtle disadvantage to Romney.”

    “Obama has temporarily been a bipartisan figure this week. He has been the comforter-in-chief and that helps,” Rove said. The slight disadvantage for Obama, Rove said, “is that people in Eastern coastal communities are going to be preoccupied by issues of getting food to eat and having a roof over their heads; some of them won’t be thinking as much about the election.” But he conceded that those people reside in the Northeast, and not in the battleground states most likely to decide the election.

    Anonymous Romney aides to CBS News:

    Campaign sources concede superstorm Sandy stalled Romney’s momentum. For eight straight days, polls showed him picking up support. The campaign’s internal polling, which is using different turnout models than most public polls, had him on solid ground in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. He had a slight lead or was tied in Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin and was in striking distance in Pennsylvania, a state Republicans hadn’t won since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

    Coming off the pivotal first debate, the campaign pushed the message that the 2008 Barack Obama of hope and change had become the 2012 President Obama of divide and destroy, making the campaign about small things — Big Bird and binders — at a time the nation had big challenges. It resonated with voters in those swing states.

    But then came something very big: a natural disaster that left a path of death and destruction on the East Coast. Suddenly, there was little talk about small things.

    Those leads in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa still hold in the internal polls, campaign sources say, but Romney’s movement flattened out or, as the campaign likes to say, “paused.” Nevada is now off the table, and those neck-and-neck swing states are even tighter.

    Haley Barbour on CNN:

    (CNN) – Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Sunday argued Superstorm Sandy not only wreaked havoc on the Northeast this week, but blunted Mitt Romney’s campaign as well.

    “The hurricane is what broke Romney’s momentum. I don’t think there is any question about it,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Barbour, a Republican, said the barrage of news coverage surrounding the storm replaced the political debate in the final days leading up to the election. He added, however, he doesn’t blame the media for covering the storm.

    “Any day that the news media is not talking about jobs or the economy, taxes or spending, deficit and debt, Obamacare and energy, is a good day for Barack Obama,” he continued, adding the news “blackout” on those issues has helped the president.

    “Whether it will be good enough remains to be seen,” he said.

    Also, Bush 2004 strategist Matthew Dowd on the three signs a campaign is losing:

    DOWD: …every time you feel a losing campaign, these three things happen. The first thing happens is, don’t believe — the public polls are wrong. That’s the first sign of a campaign that’s about to lose. The second thing, we’re going to change the nature of the electorate, and you’re not seeing it reflected in the polls. And the third thing is, the only poll that counts is Election Day. When you hear those things, you know you’re about to lose.

    Bottom line: if your side is preemptively making excuses or telegraphing the running mate’s backup plans before the election, odds are you’re going to lose. I’ll publish my pre-election predictions in the next day or two.

    Update: From Nate Silver: Between national + battleground state polls so far today: 29 Obama leads, 3 Romney leads, 5 ties.

I’ll be live blogging and tweeting the VP debate tonight. Watch this space…

8:50 – Martha Raddatz introduced, takes the podium…
8:52 – Raddatz just referred to Paul Ryan as “Congressman Ryan” from the stage. Did she just violate the terms of the debate?
8:54 – @TheFix: What were the odds on Martha Raddatz mentioning Chamillionaire? 1 trillion to 1? #vpdebate
8:58 – For your amusement, follow Onion Politics on Twitter tonight, who will be tweeting in character as Joe Biden as only they can.

9:02 – Biden and Ryan take the stage Let the games begin…
9:03 – Raddatz opens with a question about Libya, noting today is the one month anniversary of the attack. Was this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden? “It was a tragedy.”
9:05 – Biden pivots response to mention ending war in Iraq, getting Osama bin Laden
Biden channels John McCain’s “gates of hell” comment from 2007 GOP primaries
9:06 – Ryan points out that the US ambassador in France has marines guarding him. Shouldn’t US ambassador in Benghazi have had a marine detachment guarding him?
“What we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”
9:09 – Biden: “With all due respect that’s a bunch of malarkey.” (Why?) “With all due respect, not a single thing he said was true.”

9:11 – Biden on administration’s initial story about protest: Intelligence community told us that… they learned more facts and changed their assessment.
9:12 – Raddatz to Ryan: Should US apologize for burning Korans, urinating on corpses. Ryan – Yes. For urinating on corpses. Not for US values.
9:14 – Good/tough question from Raddatz for both candidates: How effective would a military strike on Iran be?
9:16 – Biden on administration handling of Iran: “These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions.”
9:18 – Ryan hits Obama for going on The View while in New York City but not meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu.
9:19 – 20 minutes in, purely from an optics perspective, Biden looks like he’s having more fun with the debate than Obama.

9:23 – Raddatz pivots to the economy.
9:24 – Biden hits Romney for “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” op-ed and 47 percent comments.
9:26 – Ryan asks Romney about the unemployment rate in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
9:28 – Ryan telling story of Mark Nixon, family in MA helped by Romneys after two of his children paralyzed in a car accident.
Ryan zings Romney for gaffes… Biden laughs, responding “But I always mean what I say.”
9:31 – @mollyesque: Biden: “Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something. Show me a policy.”
9:32 – Biden hits Ryan for requesting stimulus money for the state of Wisconsin…

9:34 – Raddatz pivots to Medicare
9:37 – Biden mentions Sarah Palin and death panels in rebuttal to Paul Ryan’s opening response. Fact check: Palin’s death panel comment came in 2009, AFTER the Obama administration was in office.
9:38 – Ryan: “They got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.”
9:40 – Some pretty contentious back and forth going on, as Ryan and Biden speaking over and interrupting each other.

9:45 – Raddatz moves on… next question is on taxes. Who will pay more or less in taxes?
9:47 – Looks like the “Mr. Ryan” agreement went out the window. Raddatz and Biden have been referring to him as “Congressman” throughout the debate
9:51 – @TheFix: Dem analysis of debate so far: “Biden rules, Ryan sucks”. GOP analysis of debate so far: “Ryan rules, Biden sucks”. #vpdebate
9:53 – Ryan ALMOST steps in it with a John Kennedy reference… “Now you’re Jack Kennedy?”
9:54 – @DeathStarPR: A little less conversation, a little more lightsaber duel to the death. #VPDebate #Debates

9:55 – Raddatz pivots to defense spending.

9:57 – Raddatz pivots to Afghanistan. Why not leave now? What more can we accomplish?
10:02 – Ryan: “Problems are growing abroad, but jobs aren’t growing here at home.”
10:07 – Are they arguing about Afghan weather and geography?

10:08 – Raddatz pivots to Syria… Why no military action in Syria?
10:10 – @ZekeJMiller: Biden hits Romney for not saying what he’d do in Syria
10:11 – @joshrogin: Biden contradicts State Department on Benghazi security http://t.co/o8jri6OZ
10:12 – Watching the clock… Biden has spoken a full 3 minutes more than Ryan.
10:13 – Ryan: We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer. We should not have waited for Russia to give us the green light at the UN.

10:14 – Raddatz asks Biden and Ryan – both Catholics – what role religion plays in their views on abortion.
10:15 – Ryan: “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life.”
“The policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.”
10:17 – Biden: “My religion defines who I am. I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life.”
Biden says he accepts church teachings that life begins at conception personally, but won’t impose it on others.

10:21 – Candidates pivot to Supreme Court

10:22 – Raddatz closing question: What would you say to American hero about this campaign? Ever embarrassed about the tone?
10:23 – Biden hits super PACs/Citizens United, calling them an “abomination”
10:24 – Ryan: You had a president run on hope and change 4 years ago who now campaigns on attack, blame and defame.

10:29 – Closing statements… Biden goes first.
10:32 – That’s a wrap. Now onto the Spin Room and post-debate coverage!

“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.