Nervous Republicans: So much for Ryan pick

September 11, 2012

Romney and Ryan wave on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Numerous Republican pundits are lamenting Mitt Romney's return to cautious campaigning after the bold choice of Rep. Paul Ryan. 

The House Budget Chairman was seen by some as a truth-teller who would bring serious policy discussion to the race. Instead, Romney and Ryan have both largely avoided policy details -- frustrating conservative pundits. 

The hand-wringing comes among multiple polls showing President Obama ahead following the conventions, although a Washington Post-ABC News survey released Tuesday finds that among likely voters the race remains deadlocked. Romney's campaign has argued that Obama's bounce is short-lived and "the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly."

Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard

Romney gained some ground when he chose Paul Ryan. But now he seems to be back to a pre-Ryan sort of campaign. When a challenger merely appeals to disappointment with the incumbent and tries to reassure voters he’s not too bad an alternative, that isn’t generally a formula for victory. 

Standard columnist Stephen Hayes, on Fox News

"I feel like now we've sort of reverted to this pre-Ryan moment -- this safe, cautious campaign."

The Washington Examiner's Byron York quotes an (anonymous) Republican: 

"I thought the Ryan choice was a clear announcement of a new strategy," says one well-connected Republican not associated with the campaign. "But what seems to have happened is the campaign has drifted back to the position that this is just a referendum on Barack Obama. At some point, you have to earn the presidency."

The Romney strategy seems unlikely to change. As the Post's Michael Gerson -- another Republican critic -- notes, "What initially seemed like an ideological choice — previewing a shift in campaign strategy and content — now seems like a more personal decision ... Romney chose Ryan, not Ryanism."

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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