The image of a youthful Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) jogging down the steps of the USS Wisconsin. The shot of Ryan hugging his young children. Ryan, tieless with Mitt Romney, jacket-less, waving to the crowd. Those are golden campaign moments for a Romney campaign that’s lately gotten beaten up in the press and taken guff from the base. The message of the Romney campaign is now clear: forward-looking leadership. The campaign says in sadness more than anger that President Obama has been a flop and the country doesn’t have to settle for Obama.

If you want some insight into why Ryan was selected, see how effective Ryan can be in dismantling the president’s agenda. Ryan dissected Obamacare in February 2010 at the televised health-care summit. His remarks are even truer today than when he delivered them (to a miffed president oozing with condescension):

As I wrote during the week, Ryan showed today how he can accentuate the messages that Romney is trying to convey. In his speech on the Wisconsin on Saturday morning he told the crowd:

President Obama, and too many like him in Washington, have refused to make difficult decisions because they are more worried about their next election than they are about the next generation. We might have been able to get away with that before, but not now. We’re in a different, and dangerous, moment. We’re running out of time — and we can’t afford four more years of this.

Politicians from both parties have made empty promises which will soon become broken promises — with painful consequences — if we fail to act now.

I represent a part of America that includes inner cities, rural areas, suburbs and factory towns. Over the years I have seen and heard from a lot from families, from those running small businesses, and from people who are in need. But what I have heard lately troubles me the most. There is something different in their voice and in their words. What I hear from them are diminished dreams, lowered expectations, uncertain futures.

I hear some people say that this is just “the new normal.” High unemployment, declining incomes and crushing debt is not a new normal. It’s the result of misguided policies. And next January, our economy will begin a comeback with the Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class that will lead to more jobs and more take home pay for working Americans.

America is on the wrong track; but Mitt Romney and I will take the right steps, in the right time, to get us back on the right track!

Liberal media are gleeful, thinking they can make this about Ryan pushing grandma over the cliff. They haven’t seen Ryan in action, or they are engaged in wishful thinking. They don’t appreciate how much that very sentiment — laden with cynicism, irresponsibility, dishonesty and character destruction — has become the essence of what Romney-Ryan are running against. In refusing to accept the “new normal,” Ryan is both condemning Obama’s record and pivoting toward a more positive, policy-rich campaign.

The pick is transforming, but not in the way the media imagine. The media in full group-think mode gasps, “It is now a choice election, not a referendum!” Silly. Beating an incumbent is always a two-step process: Make the case against the incumbent and then give voters a better alternative. It is the opposite of what Obama has been saying, which in essence is: “I’m bad, but he is worse. And a murderer.”

In Manassas, Va., this afternoon Romney and Ryan met up with a raucous crowd. The two seemed looser and more energized, neither using a script or teleprompter. Ryan began to tear into Obama’s economic record, chastising the president for relying on government too heavily to solve our challenges. “It’s not working. It’s never worked.” He also took a jab at Obama’s negativity. “We’ve gone from hope and change to attack and blame.” Romney was more pumped up, more relaxed as well showing some rhetorical flare. He seems genuinely thrilled to have Ryan along. “It is a good day for me. It’s a good day for America.” Rather than shy from the Medicare fight, he went after Obama. “The president cut $700 billion from Medicare. We will restore and protect Medicare.” He bellowed, “You have a choice. America has a choice!” He ticked off a five-point plan (energy independence, job training and education, “trade that works for America,” cutting debt and boosting small business.” With Ryan along, Romney was also funnier than usual. In a take off on the Republicans’ “you didn’t build that” riff (and the insinuation that government deserves credit for entrepreneurs’ accomplishments) he cracked that even though a school bus takes an honor roll student to school every day,”You don’t give the bus driver credit the the honor roll.”

Ryan does several things for Romney. First, he is young, forward-looking and optimistic with appeal to the suburban voter. Second, he can articulate Romney's policies in some cases better than Romney. Third, he can make the moral case for conservatism (capitalism is the best way to lift people out of poverty), which will dilute the class warfare attacks from the left. Fourth, his family and his small-town roots give the ticket a grounding in middle America that Romney alone doesn’t have. In the effort to paint Obama “out of touch with Janesville” (Ryan’s home town) Ryan will be a powerful leg up for Romney. And finally, Romney is better with Ryan around, more relaxed and sharper in his message.

The left’s smear machine is already spinning, but the task is difficult. Ryan is unknown to the vast majority of Americans and will have the spotlight for the next few days. His megaphone is much louder than the Obama supporters nipping at his heels. He will need to hit the ground running, introduce himself and hope the American people get to know the real Ryan before the demonized version of him is pumped into the media brew.