In the second in our series while Right Turn is on vacation, we look at 10 things Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) needs to do to position himself for a GOP presidential run for 2016.
A recent Pew poll shows him with the best favorable (65 percent) / unfavorable (15 percent) ratings of any GOP 2016 contender. Here are 10 things he’ll need to do to cement his position as a top tier candidate:
1. Campaign hard for GOP Senate and House candidates, allowing him to take some credit if the Senate flips and earning the gratitude of politicians.
2. Write a book (if someone doesn’t beat him to it) on growing up in Wisconsin and coping with the death of his father. Voters need to identify with a presidential candidate and want someone who has overcome adversity.
3. Cement his image as someone who can work with both moderates and conservatives in his party. Maybe that is working on a House immigration bill that conservatives like better than the Senate bill or maybe it is rallying the GOP in this fall’s budget fights.
4. Position himself for Iowa and New Hampshire. He is one of the few 2016 contenders who could realistically win both, thereby cutting off a long campaign. He can stress his pro-life record in Iowa and his fiscal conservatism everywhere. Try to lock down Mitt Romney’s operatives in those states.
5. Position himself as the go-to guy on heath care. The GOP doesn’t have an agreed upon plan to replace Obamacare. Just like he became the face of entitlement reform for the GOP, Ryan can become identified as the conservative who will actually replace Obamacare with something better.
6. Continue to talk about national security. He’s familiar with the budget side of things, but can strengthen his national security credentials by recommending real Pentagon reform and being a clear voice for a strong U.S. presence in the world.
7. Develop his upward mobility agenda. If he moves to Ways and Means in 2014 he’ll have the opportunity to weigh in on a range of domestic policy initiatives. He’s right that the GOP needs to show it cares about lower- and middle-class Americans, and that is how he can show what sort of agenda goes with that.
8. Work with younger voters. He looks even younger than his age and has an optimistic, engaging personality. Just as President Obama captured the youth vote, made them into reliable voters and then used them throughout his 2008 campaign, Ryan can do so as well for 2016. That means a lot of college campus visits.
9. Work on his public speaking. By the end of the 2012 campaign he was quite proficient. But making an emotional appeal as well as an intellectual one is a must these days for presidential candidates. Ryan doesn’t have to bite his lower lip a la Bill Clinton, but making his pitch about people and not just ideas will serve him well. His policy initiatives should relate to his own background and the people from his home town.
10. Make sure his wife is comfortable on the trail. Every presidential candidate now runs as a team. Janna Ryan was charming but reserved in the 2012 race. She’s not only a young mother but also an accomplished lawyer, and can be a tremendous asset in 2016.