The Washington Post

Romney choose the criticism he wants to have

No matter what you do in a campaign, you will face a lot of criticism and get a lot of free advice that essentially says you should have done the opposite of whatever you just did.

The good news is that you do get to choose some of your criticism. How and what criticism you choose is part of the art of politics.

The Romney campaign has been kicked around some and accused of being a bunch of morons who are vague about where Romney stands on the big issues, especially budget issues, leaving their whole economic argument open to attack. Well, today, because of the Paul Ryan VP decision, they are being kicked around some and accused of being a bunch of morons who picked the most specific man on the planet on budget issues.

Romney has come down on the side of being serious and offered clarity to the voters, who will make the decision between his economic point of view and that of the president. Whether it was wise to do so remains to be seen. But it sure feels right so far.

Romney knows he can't exhaust his critics, and it is foolish to try. The best he could do was to make an informed decision, and one that felt right to him after living on the campaign trail for about six years. Maybe he knows more about what voters want than we give him credit for.

Now the race is on within the media to see who can prompt Ryan's first mistake, bring him down a peg or two and tarnish Romney's image as someone with an eye for talent and skilled at team building. Romney isn't the kind of guy who will anguish or look back wondering "what if.”

We will see how it plays out over the next two or three weeks (Chris Cillizza gives it 25 days). Ryan may be something big and different, or he could collapse, or we could all be saying, "What ever happened to Ryan?” But the initial news coverage and the views of GOP leaders around the country I've talked to so far would have you believe Ryan was the only rational choice Romney could have made. The certainty about Ryan and enthusiasm for the message his selection sends is intense. Romney's thinking was way ahead of almost all the experts and party veterans. Again, so far so good.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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