What Ryan told Human Events about a VP offer
When Human Events profiled Paul Ryan as part of our veepstakes feature earlier this year, we asked the House Budget Committee chairman what he would do if Mitt Romney “called and offered him second spot on his ticket?”
“That kind of talk takes serious consideration—by family, friends, and oneself,” the six-term congressman from the Badger State replied. “And it’s someone else’s decision. If that bridge ever came to cross, I’ll make the decision then.”
Early this month, that “bridge” did come to cross and the 42-year-old Ryan made the decision to accept the vice presidential nomination.
Back in April, we noted that the former congressional staffer was building a national operation that was flush with cash—nearly $5 million, in fact. Veteran pollster and Fox News analyst Frank Luntz listed Ryan as one of four Republicans who just might be able to swing the Badger State’s ten electoral votes from Obama to the GOP column.
Now, a lot of pundits and pols are scrambling to find out more about the 42-year-old conservative thinker and father of three. Most of his working life has been spent on dealing with issues and public policy. A graduate of Miami University (Ohio), Ryan worked as speechwriter for Jack Kemp and William Bennett at their “Empower America” organization, and was then legislative director for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). Anticipating that incumbent Rep. Mark Neumann would run for the Senate in 1998, Ryan moved back to his hometown, mobilized a campaign in which he would easily win nomination and election (57 percent of the vote) to Congress. He has rarely had a tough race since.
With the Badger State lawmaker’s close identification with budget issues aside, his record is just as conservative on most issues across the board. Ryan (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 93 percent) has also been a strong booster of gun rights, pro-life legislation, and tougher measures on illegal immigration. But inevitably, any interview or even reservation with him usually comes back to the budget issues that are Ryan’s passion. NBC News’ David Gregory recalled this weekend how he had once asked Ryan’s view on same sex marriage but that the congressman insisted they stay with a discussion of the budget because he felt that was the overriding issue today.
“There are those who worry about political backlash,” observed Ryan, who, like his late mentor Jack Kemp, does not say a harsh word about those who disagree with him. “And it’s been the conventional attitude of the political class for some time. But there is also a new breed of political reformers who want to shift the ground, meet this moment, and bring about change from the debt-laden welfare state.”
This is the kind of talk with which Paul Ryan energizes the conservative grassroots activists. It is that, and his passion for budget issues, that have led to years of talk of him as a potential presidential candidate. As far back in 2008, even before he was Budget Committee chairman, Ryan was already being boomed as a vice presidential nominee. That year, then-Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.), a senior member on the House Ways and Means Committee, urged Human Events to feature a profile of his friend Ryan as a potential vice presidential running mate with John McCain.
Now, he is finally on a national ticket and—for now at least, conservatives nationwide are nothing less than thrilled about his choice,
Strong medicine, all right.
But Ryan had no problem spelling it out for Human Events readers. How he spells it out to voters nationwide and whether it sells will be the question.