They may turn a brave face to the world, but they are worried in GOP Land. What's changed is more than a question of Mitt Romney. In reality Romney's campaign was a mess before Ryan. Or should we say a Romneyshambles?
The whole problem behind making a "game changing" VP pick is that it's only necessary because your campaign is in disarray coming in. If the Romney campaign wasn't already in a Romneyshambles there would have been no need for a game changer.
History is not kind to a game changing Veep. The office of the Vice President has never been important in U.S. history-save the George W. Bush years. It's a bad sign for the Republican party that every election cycle they feel that they have to make a game changing pick. Where is the evidence that the Veep can win you an election?
If you haven't laid the groundwork yourself the idea that a Veep is going to save you is a Fool's Errand. And let's say you make a Veep pick that does save you. Have you therefore been upstaged? This is already a concern about Romney's campaign-for better or worse Ryan has upstaged him. So in a way, to make a game changing pick is to find someone for VP that Americans will like better than you.
There's little reason to think that Ryan has helped Romney in any meaningful way at least as far as the electoral math is concerned. There's is some talk about Ryan putting Wisconsin in play but that's just noise. What's more likely is that Ryan will make it harder to win in Florida. Iowa, Colordao, and Pennsylvania.
It's agreed by everyone that Romney must win Florida if he even has a prayer. Does Ryan make this more or less likely?
However, what really worries most GOP operatives today is not what he's potentially done to his own campaign, but that he has made life harder for every Republican running for Congress this year. If you are a Republican running for office this year, Paul Ryan is your running mate, like it or not.
"You’ve heard them on television and read them on POLITICO — cheerful, defiant statements from Republican political professionals about Mitt Romney’s bold masterstroke in tapping Paul Ryan as his running mate, and turning the 2012 presidential race into a serious, far-reaching debate about budgets and the nation’s future."
"Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right — and a huge chance of going horribly wrong.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79697.html#ixzz23XebJrkM
"In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election."
But the election they are speaking of is not necessarily Romney's they are most concerned about:
"And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races."
That's the really important dynamic. That every Republican in the country will now have to get into a back and forth about Paul Ryan.
"They’re worried about inviting Medicare — usually death for Republicans — into the campaign. They’re worried it sidetracks the jobs issue. They’re worried he’ll expose the fact that Romney doesn’t have a budget plan. Most of all, they’re worried that Romney was on track to lose anyway — and now that feels all but certain."
“I think it’s a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It’s going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party. And probably lose. Maybe big,” said former President George W. Bush senior adviser Mark McKinnon.
"Whether or not they [the Romney campaign] want to say that they have their own plan on Day One, or whatever they’re doing, it doesn’t change the reality of them having to own the Ryan plan. How is that in the wheelhouse of creating jobs?” added a GOP consultant.
None of this has anything to do with jobs of course. That's the beauty of it. Romney keeps getting further from the premise of his campaign.
"Very not helpful down ballot — very,” said one top Republican consultant.
“This is the day the music died,” one Republican operative involved in 2012 races said after the rollout.
"The operative said that every House candidate now is racing to get ahead of this issue.
"Another strategist emailed midway through Romney and Ryan’s first joint event Saturday: “The good news is that this ticket now has a vision. The bad news is that vision is basically just a chart of numbers used to justify policies that are extremely unpopular.”
Maybe Ryan can "educate" us about how important it is to get the deficit under control?
"A top Republican in the 2012 campaign expressed doubt that even a protracted fight about the national debt would produce the kind of outcome Republicans are looking for: “My polling says that while the debt does matter to people, (a) they don’t really like any of the things we would have to do to fix it and (b) the economy has roared back as the No. 1 issue in every battleground state, eclipsing the issue that Ryan brings to the fore.”
Really, when I heard this on Saturday I was almost at a loss. I still am. I had been hoping as many liberals had the last few weeks that the groundswell of conservative support would force Romney to go Ryan. But I never really thought he'd do this figuring that he's too cautious.
Yet what few even of us Democrats hoping for Ryan didn't consider is how much this would hurt the GOP in other national races. Ryan has the potential to be negative coattails for the party this year.
Yes, the GOP has a few tricks up its sleeve. One is to try to turn it around by pointing out the President cut Medicare to fund ACA. They'll also try to claim that they mean to save Medicare. One thing I notice Ryan doing is what the RSCC urged candidates to do in a video the other night-make it personal.
Note how Ryan talks about his own mother on Medicare? Reagan used to do this by saying 'how can I do anything to hurt senior citizens when I myself am a senior citizen?' It's high tech concern trolling.
Politico featured a video that the GOP operatives have been watching.
"The presentation, which features Amodei’s campaign commercials, mailers and polling data, is designed “to show Republicans how they can push back on false Democratic attacks on Medicare cuts and the Ryan plan specifically by pushing back on Democrats and attacking them on Obamacare.”
"What’s most interesting about the case study is its straightforward acknowledgment of the difficulties Republicans have had with the politics of Medicare ("we always start out at a deficit"), and the conclusion about the best way to fight back — to go on offense and fight the issue to a draw so that the race can move on to economic issues where the GOP is better positioned."
"One way Amodei did that was by using his senior citizen mother in two separate ads.
“We can’t just walk away from this,” Shields explains. “We can’t just play defense or even ignore the issue. We’ve got to do something about it. We also know that Republicans have a strong message that’s capable of fighting Medicare to a tie.”
Essentially this is to fight out the Medicare debate to a tie and then "pivot" back to the economy. So trying to even get on the attack is now a two step move if you're a Republican. Not only for Romney-Ryan and Republicans trying to advocate for their ticket, but for every Republican running for the House and Senate in the country.
While I admit that based on what they have to work with it's not bad. However, even if it's often successful it means you are losing ground in every exchange. And it's unlikely to work every time. Especially as it's public knowledge now and the Democrats know all about it.
They're going to accuse Obama of being the one who wants to gut Medicare. They're going to argue that their plan is to save Medicare not for entitlement reform as the DSCC has declared this phrase a no-no now along with putting everything on the table. They're going to try to establish trust by talking about their mothers on Medicare.