Missouri Republicans, Democrats laud Ryan selection -- for different reasons
Within minutes of the official announcement that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running-mate choice, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill made the matter an issue in her re-election contest with Republican congressman Todd Akin.
McCaskill, D-Mo., did so via her social-medium of choice – Twitter. Which meant that her 71,175 followers saw it.
Tweeted McCaskill: “The part of the Ryan-Akin budget I hate the most? Cutting Medicare and then giving those cuts to the mega wealthy. Wrong.”
McCaskill’s observations, confirmed by her campaign, will likely soon be repeated as her campaign RV travels the state.
But so far, she's the only major Missouri Democrat to comment on Ryan.
Late Saturday afternoon, the Akin campaign released this statement, that also made it clear that Ryan will likely be an issue in the Senate contest.
“Paul Ryan is a fantastic choice," Akin wrote. "I have served with him for some time on the Budget Committee and know that he brings years of experience on our fiscal matters to the campaign trail. He has a great understanding of our current economic situation and has had the courage to lead with real solutions in the U.S. House. He understands the principles we must put back into government if we are to get our country working again.
“I am proud to have worked with him and I’m glad to see that his charisma and economic common-sense will be joining forces with Governor Romney in their bid to replace Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Paul is one of the true problem-solvers and I am thrilled about Mitt Romney’s excellent choice.”
For many in both camps, Ryan – or rather, his proposed budget, which transforms Medicare into a type of voucher program for people under 55 -- is seen as most likely to be a factor in the Senate contest between Akin and McCaskill.
None of the state’s other congressional contests are seen as competitive, and it appears that the battles for five statewide offices will likely center on other issues.
But as far as energizing the GOP base, the Missouri Republican Party couldn’t be happier with Romney’s choice.
Said state party chairman David Cole in a statement: “By selecting Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, Governor Mitt Romney once again demonstrated his commitment to putting Americans back to work and getting our nation’s fiscal house in order.
“Throughout his career, Paul Ryan has led the conservative fight against reckless government spending, higher taxes and job-killing regulations,” Cole continued. “The Romney-Ryan vision for a more prosperous and free America will present a clear contrast to the reckless, big-government record of the Obama Administration. Together, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan will lead America’s and Missouri’s comeback.”
Ryan’s addition to the national GOP ticket also may be celebrated during the state GOP’s “Victory Bus Tour” that’s slated to get underway this coming week.
The bus is to stop Wednesday in Fenton, with most of the party’s top Republicans on board. The rally is set for 4 p.m. at the GOP’s campaign office at 932 A Meramec Station Road in Fenton.
Could Ryan ignite turnout -- on both sides?
Missouri Democratic chairman Mike Sanders asserted that Ryan's addition to the GOP ticket won't affect the guts of this fall's debate.
"This selection does nothing to change the fact that here in Missouri, the Republican Party has a terribly flawed ticket – which includes a candidate for Senate who wants to end Medicare as we know it and a candidate for Governor who refused to repay his bank’s $40 million bailout," Sanders said in a statement. "The Democrats have a slate of strong, experienced candidates up against a flawed slate of Republican candidates.”
But Missouri Right to Life president Pam Fichter views the GOP ticket as perfect, when it comes to her camp's top issue. Right to Life called it "a solid pro-life ticket for a pro-life America."
Said Fichter: "...Paul Ryan has been a strong and consistent voice for life with a 100% voting record and receiving the endorsements of both Wisconsin Right to Life and National Right to Life in his previous elections. The Romney-Ryan ticket offers American voters a clear pro-life choice over the anti-life Obama-Biden administration. A Romney-Ryan administration will return this country to our founding principles of respect for our 'inalienable right to life.' "
State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, was a strong supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s unsuccessful presidential campaign. Curtman said Saturday that the selection of Ryan could go a long way toward energizing the GOP’s conservative base.
“I think that pick in Ryan is a really smart move tactically,” Curtman said. “Because there are a lot of conservatives that aren’t enthusiastic about Romney, but they’re really enthusiastic about Ryan.”
Curtman added that Ryan possesses some advantages to the national Republicans’ last vice presidential pick, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“I think people like Romney more than they liked McCain,” Curtman said. “I think people already know a whole lot more about Ryan than they did about Palin back in 2008 when she was picked. So I really think this is probably going to be good for the entire party.”
But Patricia Bynes – a St. Louis County Democratic Committeewoman for Ferguson Township – said Ryan’s selection could invigorate Democrats as well. She added she had been worried in the last few weeks that Romney might select someone perceived as “moderate” – such as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty or U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio .
“That certainly could have hurt Democrats as far as being able to reach out to the independents, the moderates – you know, people who are centrist people,” Bynes said. “But he reached all the way over to the right to a Tea Party darling, to a guy who considers himself to be a fiscal hawk. And to me, it signals that (Romney) plans on making the economy and budget issues a central part of his campaign.”
Such a course could be better for Democrats because the debate will “just show how radical some of Ryan’s stuff is,” Bynes added.
But Democratic consultant Mike Kelley, former executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party, doubts that Ryan will have much impact on any of the state's major contests on the ballot this fall – particularly since neither presidential campaign is expected to spend much time in the state.
The Obama and Romney campaigns, he said, appear to be ceding Missouri to Romney. “This is the first time we’re not an up-for-grabs swing state,’’ Kelley said. “Ryan won’t be what drives people to the polls.”
On that point, Republican activists disagree. The Republican National Committee says it is setting up campaign operations in the state, as part of the party’s push to knock off McCaskill. Ryan’s selection is seen as helping that effort.
McCaskill – who already has been focusing on Social Security and Medicare -- appears to be counting on Ryan to help boost her votes as well.