The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that although Romney’s selection of Ryan did not change the basic dynamic of the campaign, it boosted Republicans’ excitement about their ticket.
Where Obama in previous polls held a double-digit lead on that measure, the candidates now are roughly equivalent in the amount of energy they are generating with their party bases. In the new survey, 48 percent of Obama supporters say they are “very enthusiastic” about his candidacy, compared with 42 percent of Romney’s.
Very conservative voters overwhelmingly approve of Ryan’s selection, and for the first time in this election cycle, their enthusiasm rivals that of liberals for Obama.
To Republicans on the right, who have long been skeptical of Romney, his selection of Ryan sent a strong message.
“It said: This guy’s got the courage and the passion to be an exceptional president,” Walker said at a breakfast Wednesday with journalists from The Washington Post and Bloomberg News. “He said: This is a guy who’s got the guts to put someone like Paul Ryan on the ticket, who’s actually willing to govern like he’s campaigning.”
Obama’s campaign, however, contends that the Republican ticket has tried to gloss over the pain that would be inflicted by the spending cuts and entitlement changes in the Ryan plan. It also said the tax cuts that the plan envisions would worsen the nation’s fiscal situation.
In criticizing Ryan, Obama campaign aides — some of whom were making the rounds at the convention center in Tampa — echoed an argument that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had made against the president in his keynote address the night before.
“We heard a lot of talking [Tuesday night] about tough choices and hard truths,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “The burden on them is to explain why tax cuts weighted to the wealthiest would work.”
One speaker who tried to rebut that contention was Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) — the son of Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), who sought the nomination this year and in 2008.
Rand Paul, a tea party favorite who won his Senate seat after defeating the GOP establishment in his state, offered a vigorous defense against Obama’s contention that the wealthy and corporations should bear more of the tax burden.
“Mr. President, you say the rich must pay their fair share. But when you seek to punish the rich, the jobs that are lost are those of the poor and middle-class,” Paul said.
Wednesday’s convention proceeding touched a number of political bases.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who competed against Romney for the GOP nomination in 2008 (both fell short), argued that his fellow evangelical Christians should get over their leeriness of Romney’s Mormon faith.
“I care less about where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country,” Huckabee said.
Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, the only high-profile member of the George W. Bush administration to have a prominent role at the gathering, gave what was one of the most stirring speeches of the convention.
She recalled her upbringing in the segregated South and lauded the parents who could make that little girl “believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworths lunch counter, she can be president of the United States and she becomes the secretary of state. America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect. But of course it has never been inevitable — it has taken leadership, courage and an unwavering faith in our values.”
Rice went on: “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the experience and the integrity and the vision to lead us — they know who we are, what we want to be and what we offer the world.”
For the first time during the convention, foreign policy took the spotlight alongside domestic economic issues.
Rice obliquely criticized Obama’s international approach.
“The promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq. Dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region. China and Russia prevent a response, and all wonder, ‘Where does America stand?’ ” she said. “When our friends and our foes alike do not know the answer to that question — clearly and unambiguously — the world is a chaotic and dangerous place.”
Aaron Blake and Jon Cohen in Tampa and Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.