Friday PhotoAugust 17, 2012
Here is a photo I took of Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan, back when he was just a congressman speaking at Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in 2011. The choice of Ryan was a surprising one since he appeals much better to the most conservative of voters rather than independents and moderates. In essence, Romney seems to be working harder to win the primary than the general election, which is a bad strategy for a nominee heading into November. Just ask John McCain how that worked out! Although Ryan will handle himself better in interviews than Sarah Palin, he will still be a drag on the ticket. Ryan is the seventh Catholic (and second Republican) chosen as a major party running mate--with current Vice President Joe Biden as the only one to become Vice President. The other Republican ran with Barry Goldwater in 1964. So Ryan is a interesting choice that confirms the growing political influence of Catholics, which is something I noted in my book on confessional politics. However, Ryan's budget that Republicans embraced the last few years--and which Romney has now married himself to--has drawn harsh criticism from Catholic bishops because it decimates programs that help the poor to give tax breaks for the wealthy (see post here). Thus, the selection of Ryan could undermine Romney's effort to win over Catholics upset at Obamacare. Perhaps we will at least see a good debate about the moral responsibilities and implications of our national budget.