The scene underscored a dynamic that has marked Ryan’s 19 days on the trail as the Republican vice-presidential nominee: The seven-term Wisconsin congressman has run a tightly scripted campaign, surrounded by operatives from Romney’s Boston headquarters who also happen to have a close relationship with Ryan.
When Ryan steps onto the stage in Tampa, the speech he delivers will be the most tangible product yet of that dynamic. It’s an address that Ryan — a former speechwriter for Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) and later for Kemp’s Empower America think tank — played a leading role in writing, with the aid of advisers from Boston as well as his own inner circle.
“Well, it’s me,” Ryan told reporters aboard his campaign plane last Wednesday when asked about the developing address. “It’s what I believe and what I do. It’s going to be — I used to write speeches, I’ve done a lot of speechwriting in the past. Words matter a lot, and I’m putting a lot of effort into it.”
Throughout his 21
2 weeks on the trail, Ryan has kept in close contact with Boston through regular video conferences, and advisers at campaign headquarters have reviewed versions of his speech.
In addition, two top Republican speechwriters — Matthew Scully and John McConnell, both former writers for George W. Bush — were enlisted by the Romney campaign to work with Ryan in crafting his address. Scully is renowned for writing then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s widely hailed 2008 convention speech, although few traces of her in-your-face brand are expected when Ryan takes the stage. McConnell also served as chief speechwriter to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The speechwriting duo traveled the trail with Ryan from the day he was announced as Romney’s running mate until the following Saturday, when they parted ways with the GOP nominee at a Florida campaign event and continued their collaboration from afar.
When it comes to the other traveling aides who have been working with Ryan on the speech, the group is a blend of longtime Ryan aides and a campaign-staff-in-waiting put into place by Boston well before Ryan was chosen for the vice presidential slot. Even so, Ryan has known many of the Romney loyalists for years, in part from joint work on Capitol Hill.
Among the Ryan staffers are Joyce Meyer and Andy Speth, the candidate’s Washington-and Wisconsin-based chiefs of staff, respectively; Speth is also a longtime friend of Ryan’s. Conor Sweeney, spokesman for Ryan’s House Budget Committee, is another member of the inner circle that Ryan brought with him to the campaign.