Ever since Mitt Romney announced he had selected Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential candidate, there has been much rending of sackcloth by pundits in Washington about whether or not his ambitious budget and entitlement reform proposals will help or hurt the GOP. However, Paul Ryan brings one other potentially decisive factor to the presidential race that few have even begun to reckon with:
What if Paul Ryan goes out on the campaign trail and the American people just decide they really, really like the guy?
Sure, he has plenty of superficial appeal—he’s youthful, handsome, articulate, uncommonly focused, and a sincere family man who has no real skeletons in his closet. Even his detractors would probably concede those superlatives, and these qualities certainly won’t hurt his electoral chances.
But at only 42, Ryan also has a surprising amount of political experience and success. He’s been elected seven times in a district that’s no cakewalk for a conservative Republican. In 2008, 51 percent of his district voted for Barack Obama. Ryan’s clearly had to campaign and hone his retail political skills.
Of course, campaigning across a small corner of Wisconsin is a far cry from being thrust on the national political stage. However, if Ryan’s campaign rally in suburban Denver today is any indication—one of his first solo outings on the presidential campaign trail—he’s managing the transition effortlessly.
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