Few U.S. businessmen understand the power of a good investment better than Mitt Romney. The man who made $20 million in 2010 alone, rescued Staples from bankruptcy and saved the 2002 Olympics from disaster has made his career on making the right choices at the right times. But his most recent investment—the choice of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate—has raised some eyebrows among conservatives as to the potential return on investment that Ryan can bring to the GOP ticket this fall.
Ryan’s positives are clearly apparent. For a candidate that has run his entire campaign focused on the economy, Romney chose the man who, as he said in a speech introducing Ryan, is the intellectual leader of the Republican party. Originally called the Path to Prosperity, Ryan’s budget proposal tackles not only government spending but entitlement reform, including cuts to Medicaid and making Medicare into a voucher system. As a massive driver of federal deficit spending, entitlement programs must be addressed, according to many fiscal conservatives, even though doing so has been historically unpopular among voters.
The tough, unpopular cuts that Ryan has proposed are already proving a liability for the Romney campaign. A USA Today Gallup Poll shows that 42% of registered voters surveyed think that Ryan would be a “fair or poor” choice for VP, while 39% think he would be a good choice.
But while these numbers are believed to be because Ryan is not well known to many voters, Ryan will have to work harder to correct his lack of popularity in swing states. While Tuesday was election day in many state-wide races, every major Florida newspaper ran reactions to Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals on the front page. With large senior citizen populations, Florida voters are concerned about Medicare becoming a voucher system that may leave seniors searching for health insurance on the private market.
One place where Ryan may help the Romney campaign is in Wisconsin. Ryan is a 6-time winner in a district that helped elect Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Before the pick of Paul Ryan for VP, the Romney campaign had virtually given up on Wisconsin, a state that had been thought to be going blue, despite the re-election of Scott Walker there this summer. But with hometown boy Paul Ryan on the ticket, the Romney camp believes they have a shot to take Wisconsin, turning Ryan’s home district red and capturing a major swing state.
Analysts from MSNBC to CNN to Politico all report that, while many conservatives believe Ryan can be a liability because of his unpopular proposals, the main goal of the Romney camp should be to get on the same page. While Ryan has a budget proposal, Mitt Romney claims he has his own budget proposal that he will groom with the help of Ryan. So far, the pair has failed to articulate a unified proposal. One thing is clear: they will have nothing but chances to do so, as the announcement is still dominating the airwaves across the country.