“No, no,” Obama said. “I know him. I welcome him to the race. He’s a decent man, a family man, an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney’s vision. But it’s a vision I fundamentally disagree with.”
If Romney is betting that his selection of Ryan will rally his conservative base in a nip-and-tuck election, Democrats are counting on its having the same effect on their side. For months, the Obama campaign has been trying to tie Romney to Ryan’s Republican House budget proposal, which the president in April called “social Darwinism” that would pit the poor against the wealthy. Ryan has proposed major cuts to spending and entitlement programs in an effort to curb the spiraling national debt.
But Obama’s campaign believes Ryan’s ideological views will turn off moderate voters and drive liberals to the polls, especially in Florida, an important swing state where Obama, in two appearances last month, vilified the congressman’s proposal to partially privatize Medicare. In this way, Democrats say, Ryan provides a natural foil for the president, who has framed the election as a choice between sharply contrasting visions that could fundamentally reshape the nation.
At the fundraising event, one of five Obama attended in Chicago on Sunday, the president said of his rivals: “They all believe that if you get rid of more regulations for big corporations and give more tax breaks to the wealthy, it will lead to jobs and prosperity for everyone else. That’s what they’re proposing, where they’ll take us if they win. That’s not speculation; it’s on their Web site, in their budget that House Republicans voted for repeatedly.”
Responding to Obama’s remarks, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams charged the president with running a “fear and smear campaign because his policies have failed.”
With Ryan, considered a policy wunderkind inside the GOP, on the ticket, Williams said the Romney campaign will “continue to put forward idea after idea on how to grow the economy and get spending under control.”
Yet beneath the Obama reelection team’s forceful response to Ryan was a sense of delight at the campaign headquarters in Chicago, and among their Democratic allies, that they got the vice presidential candidate they wanted.
While Ryan may help Romney take the focus off his undisclosed tax returns and tenure at Bain Capital, at least temporarily, and return the debate to the budget and economy, the congressman also presents an opportunity for Democrats who believe Americans have grown frustrated with an increasingly ideological and rigid Republican Party.