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News, August 2012
Romney Picks Fiscal Hawk Ryan as Vice President in his US Presidential Race Against Obama
No immediate lift for Romney from picking Ryan
Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:43pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Republican Mitt Romney received no immediate boost to his White House bid by naming U.S. Representative Paul Ryan as vice presidential running mate, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday.
Some 51 percent of those surveyed said the decision did not change their opinion of Romney, a former private-equity executive and Massachusetts governor who will face President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.
Another 26 percent in the online poll said they viewed Romney more favorably after he added the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman to the ticket on Saturday, while 23 percent said they viewed him less favorably.
The survey of 508 registered voters was conducted for Reuters from August 11 to August 13.
Ryan is a polarizing figure in Washington, where he has led his party's push to cut domestic spending, lower taxes and scale back the size of the federal government as chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.
A hero to conservatives, Ryan has given Romney a jolt of energy on the campaign trail after several difficult weeks marked by gaffes and continued questions about his personal finances. The two men basked in the cheers of thousands of supporters at campaign stops in North Carolina on Sunday.
But Ryan remains largely unknown to the wider public.
While 80 percent of those surveyed said they had at least heard of Ryan, only 35 percent said they were familiar with him.
Some 42 percent said they did not know whether he was qualified or not to be president - a higher percentage than the 33 percent who said he was not qualified and the 26 percent who said he was.
One warning sign for the Romney campaign: by a margin of 44 percent to 29 percent, voters said the incumbent vice president, Joe Biden, was more qualified than Ryan to serve as president if the need arose.
"He's fairly unknown in who he is and what he stands for," said Ipsos vice president Julia Clark. "He's a Wisconsin congressman, not a nationally known figure."
That is likely to change in the coming weeks as Ryan campaigns across the country to build enthusiasm among grass-roots conservatives while Democrats attack his budget plan as one that would gut programs for the elderly and the poor.
The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points for all respondents.
Ryan's signature proposal would change the popular Medicare health plan for the elderly into a voucher program that would give future retirees a fixed amount of money to buy traditional Medicare insurance or competing private plans.
Ryan says that approach would rein in spiraling medical costs that threaten the program's solvency in coming decades. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that one version of Ryan's plan, passed by the House last year, would increase retiree's out-of-pocket medical costs by about $6,400 annually.
Democrats argue that the plan would end guaranteed medical coverage for seniors, and have made it a centerpiece of their effort to win back control of the House.
With Ryan now on the Republican ticket, independent analysts say it could hurt Romney's chances of winning in retiree-heavy states like Florida.
But Ryan's plan might not be as toxic as Democrats think.
Between 54 percent and 49 percent of voters surveyed in a June 2011 Reuters/Ipsos poll said would support a Medicare voucher plan, depending on how the question was worded, with relatively little difference in support between Democrats and Republicans.
(Reporting By Andy Sullivan, Editing by Alistair Bell and Doina Chiacu)
Fiscal hawk Ryan shakes up US presidential race
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has picked Congressman Paul Ryan (pictured left) as his running mate for the November elections. Ryan will likely fire up conservative voters, but may also prove a divisive figure.
By Joseph BAMAT (text)
France 24, August 13, 2012,
Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is campaigning in the key battleground state of Iowa this week, after presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney named him as his running mate on August 11. Romney’s campaign has so far been sluggish and Republicans hope Ryan will energize the party’s dash to the November elections.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Ryan, 42, gained visibility last year for his proposal to balance the United States budget by slashing government spending and overhauling cherished social programs. As he joined the race, Ryan unsurprisingly focused on the economy and the country’s deepening debt.
“We need new leadership to become part of the solution, new leadership to restore prosperity, economic growth and jobs,” he told supporters in his first public speech as a vice presidential candidate in Norfolk, Virginia over the weekend. “It is our duty to save the American dream for our children and theirs.”
Ryan was part of a shortlist of potential Republican vice presidential nominees that included Ohio Senator Rob Portman and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty - both of whom were considered safer choices.
Democrats quickly reacted to Ryan’s nomination, with President Barack Obama telling supporters at a fundraising event in Chicago that the young lawmaker was the right-wing’s “ideological leader”.
Critics have blasted Ryan’s blueprint for the budget as one that puts the entire burden of recovery on America’s most vulnerable citizens, especially the poor and the elderly, while sparing the wealthy from new taxes.
“Congressman Ryan is a decent man, he is a family man, he’s an articulate spokesman for governor Romney’s vision. But it’s a vision that I fundamentally disagree with,” Obama, who aims to win a second term in office in the fast-approaching poll, said.
According to Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Ryan is a “high-risk, high-reward” pick for Romney. While Ryan will likely fire up the Republican’s conservative base, his views have at times found detractors within his own camp.
Ryan’s call to drastically reduce both spending and taxes was once branded “right-wing social engineering” by former Republican house speaker Newt Gingrich, who pulled out of the GOP primary in May.
While Romney’s decision to pick Ryan was seen as a bold move, the presidential hopeful was already trying to reassure voters over his agenda. “I have my budget plan,” Romney told CBS television on Sunday. “That's the budget plan we're going to run on.”
Fiscal and social conservative
Ryan lives in Janesville, Wisconsin, the same small city where he was born and went to high school. His personal background made him a dedicated defender of business owners: the Ryan family owns a prosperous earthmoving company, Ryan Inc. Central, which was started by his great-grandfather.
He studied economics and political science in Miami University in Ohio. Although he briefly worked for the family firm, his career has been centred in Washington. Ryan was a congressional staffer and speech writer for conservative lawmakers and interest groups before his successful bid for a congressional seat in 1998, when he was 28-years-old.
Although “Washington bureaucrats” are one of Ryan’s favourite targets, he is serving his seventh term on Capitol Hill. Although fiscal discipline has been his major issue, Ryan, a practicing Catholic and social conservative, has fought against abortion, opposed human embryonic stem cell research and same-sex marriage.
A question of faith
While Ryan’s push for serious belt-tightening earned him wide notoriety during Washington’s stressful debt-limit stalemate last summer, the Wisconsin congressman was championing a reduction in government spending as far back as 2008. First launched as the “Roadmap for America's Future”, Ryan’s plan to divorce the government from its Social Security and Medicare programs - two social safety nets dear to American senior citizens - was not popular with Republicans used to Bush-era spending.
Ryan’s roadmap hit a dead end, picking up just eight co-sponsors in 2008. It was only after the Tea Party movement burst onto America’s political scene in 2010 that Ryan’s vision gained traction.
The policy proposal, renamed the “Path to Prosperity” but broadly known as the “Ryan budget”, sailed through the Republican-controlled House in April 2011, but later died in the Democrat-led Senate. Both the lower and upper houses need to approve a bill before it can become law.
His fiscal charge has gained Ryan admirers in the Tea Party and other conservative circles.. The right-wing weekly magazine Human Events named Ryan 2011’s Conservative of the Year, praising him for pursuing “an agenda of limiting Washington’s control over our private property”.
But many others remain unimpressed by a man who says his Catholic faith motivates his policy making. The US Catholic Bishops have come down hard on Ryan’s plan to limit and slash social programs, and have sent rare letters of warning to Washington.
“Deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people. The proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test,” the bishops wrote in a letter to Ryan and his colleagues in May.
Ryan is a high-risk, high-reward vice presidential pick’
Analysts say Paul Ryan (pictured right) is a bold, but potentially risky choice of running mate for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. FRANCE 24 asked observers from the left and the right why he’s a controversial pick.
By Joseph BAMAT (text)
Karlyn Bowman is a political analyst from the right-of-centre American Enterprise Institute. Darrell M. West is the director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution.
In what ways does Congress Paul Ryan bolster Mitt Romney’s presidential bid?
Bowman: Romney could get a boost in public opinion and light a little enthusiasm at the base. It shows confidence on the part of Romney, because Ryan is a high-risk, high-reward choice. Ryan is young, attractive and well-liked, even by people who disagree with his positions. He will not be as threatening as democrats would like to portray him.
West: Ryan brings youth, enthusiasm and vision; qualities that have been lacking from Romney’s campaign. People are looking for someone with a plan to improve the economy and balance the budget. By picking Ryan, Romney automatically has a plan which has already been approved by the House of Representatives. It is a detailed plan for entitlement reform.
What liabilities does he bring?
Bowman: Democrats will portray Ryan as a radical who will hurt the middle class and the elderly, while exempting the rich from taxes. Obama had been consistently leading in opinion polls, except in the area of the economy, where Romney has always led. We will see if that changes.
West: Ryan’s plan has so many policy specifics that it will be easy for democrats to attack it. Only one-third of voters support the radical change in Medicare that Ryan has proposed. Medicare and Social Security have been called the third rail of American politics because they are two programs that remain very popular with the public. Romney wanted the election to be a referendum on the economy. But democrats can now refocus the race on what are the two competing visions. For Obama that is a much better narrative than defending 8% unemployment.
How are Congressman Ryan and former Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin alike and different?
Bowman: Both are young and enthusiastic figures, but Ryan is a lot more relevant. He has served as a congressman for several straight terms ; he knows Washington inside and out and is well liked in the Beltway. Those are not things Palin could claim. Also, Ryan could appeal to voters in the key battleground states of Iowa and Wisconsin and potentially help win those. Palin was strong in Alaska, but did not have broader appeal in battleground areas.
West: Both candidates were picked to shake up the race; both were bold but risky choices. One important difference with Ryan is that he has a lot more substance. He is smart and articulate and good at defending his positions. Palin did not know enough about policy matters to hold meaningful debates. He does.
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