I always wonder which is the real Romney — the Governor of Massachusetts who supported gun control and developed a mandate-driven health care system, or the Candidate who leans toward Tea Party anti-government policies and plans to repeal Obama’s health care act and shower tax-cut largess on ultra-high earners?
If Romney’s choice for his running mate, Paul Ryan, is a choice from the heart, then it’s clear the real Romney is the Tea-Party loving tax-cutting anti-welfare anti-government Candidate. But it’s also possible that Ryan was a necessary choice to shore up Romney’s credit with the enthusiastic core of the Republican base, which is suspicious of ‘Governor Romney’s’ relatively moderate record.
There is no way to tell for certain. But my take is that Ryan was forced on Romney, and will be a bad choice for the ticket. Ryan may appeal to the Tea Party enthusiasts, but he has zero appeal to moderate Republicans and may repel independents, whose votes will be crucial in this election. Ryan’s budget ideas are radical, scorched earth cuts in federal spending that made even Newt Gingrich cringe. Ryan had no following even within the Republic party for his ideas until the 2010 election brought several dozen Tea-party driven freshmen Republicans to the House.
Ryan is right that the federal budget needs attention and must be brought into better long-term balance or the country’s fiscal strength will be undermined. But his plan to do that by gutting medicare and social security will infuriate the baby-boomers and turn off most moderates and independents.
Romney’s choice may have made hard-core Republican’s happier; but I think it also made him even less likely to do well in the general election.