GREAT ADVICE – AT 8:47 A.M. ET: The Wall Street Journal is basking in a glow this morning because it advocated the selection of Paul Ryan just a few days before it was made. Now the Journal gives Romney some very good advice: Unleash Ryan. Let Ryan be Ryan. Having seen the guy in action, I think they're right.
The Obama campaign is wasting no time trying to do to Paul Ryan what it has done to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital—define him with attack ads before voters even have a chance to hear more than a soundbite from the man. Here's a suggestion for Team Romney: Unleash Paul Ryan on the national media.
They also did it to Sarah Palin. However, with due respect to Sarah, Ryan is no Palin. He's a master of the issues. And the initial attacks on Ryan by the Dems seem inept and amateurish. I say that with pleasure.
Every campaign's temptation is to control the venues and the message for a vice president: Stick to the campaign script, work off the teleprompter, play it safe. Above all, make no mistakes. This is exactly the wrong way to handle Mr. Ryan, much less to beat back the Democratic assault.
The best rebuttal to President Obama's attack machine is Mr. Ryan himself. No one knows the facts of his budget better than he does, no one in the Republican Party can explain better the policy choices on Medicare, and few can better put those details into a larger moral context.
Above all, Mr. Ryan has the kind of sunny demeanor that is a living repudiation of the "radical" and "extremist" charge. He will not come across as arrogant or threatening. And if he reveals a Reaganesque smile and shrug that dismiss the attacks as the same old nasty Washington politics, that won't hurt either.
The Democratic goal is to demonize Mr. Ryan before voters have a chance to see and hear him in action. So give the voters ample chance to see and hear him. They'll have that chance at the GOP convention in two weeks. But Democrats will be going for the kill before then.
In the coming days, the Romney campaign should let Mr. Ryan sit down for some long, live interviews with the press, even questioners whose idea of tough journalism is asking who is the President of Uganda. That includes letting him campaign in states like Florida, Iowa and Pennsylvania with large senior populations. Voters need to see him respond to the worst claims about Medicare and tax cuts for the rich.
I believe Ryan is already scheduled for Iowa and Florida. Don't know about Pennsylvania.
There's always a risk that Mr. Ryan will make a mistake, but he can't possibly do worse on that score than Joe Biden. The bigger mistake would be running away from those false accusations. That's when voters begin to suspect the criticisms might be right. Far better to take them head on.
Mr. Romney's advisers are portraying Mr. Ryan's selection as a politically substantive contrast to Mr. Obama's strategy of small-minded attacks that distract from his economic record. If they really believe that, then by all means put Mr. Ryan's substance front and center for all to see.
COMMENT: That is great advice, well stated. If there's ever been a self-starter in American politics, it's Paul Ryan. And the campaign must now learn to speak over the heads of the Obama media and directly to the American people.
I'm assuming TV ads are already in the works. They'd better be. The Dem ad factories work 24/7, accusing Romney of causing cancer, and uplifting the campaign in other ways as well.
August 13, 2012