Paul Ryan made a huge splash on the USS Wisconsin when he debuted on the presidential campaign a few weeks ago. Unlike his immediate predecessor for VP on a GOP ticket, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Ryan is no stranger to the national stage. After being excoriated in 2010 and 2011 for his serious, yet controversial budget plan, Ryan became a regular villain of the Democrats and the media.
The president himself took some time out of his schedule of driving the country into insane amounts of debt to beat up Paul Ryan for actually wanting to stop the downward spiral. Obama invited Ryan to the front row of a speech, during which he ripped him to shreds in front of the entire nation. Campaign commercials showing a Paul Ryan lookalike tossing granny off the cliff started to pepper the airways.
Tonight, it was payback time.
There were some tough acts to follow. Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, and Senator Rand Paul all delivered great speeches, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice absolutely brought the house down.
Paul Ryan not only met these expectations, he exceeded them.
Congressman Paul Ryan took the stage at 10:26 to thunderous applause and bass-driven rock music. Knowing that Ann Romney was a tough act to follow, and not wanting to draw comparisons to Sarah Palin’s performance four years ago, he took a tone that was authentic and real. After diving right into his speech, he proceeded to drive five solid home runs over the fence.
1) Introduce Himself to the Nation
Paul Ryan may have more experience than Sarah Palin did in 2008, but he is still largely unknown to a majority of the country. Instead of a long, sappy video, there was a quick clip of Romney introducing Ryan a few weeks ago, followed by a few snippets from his mother and wife. Then he came out and immediately attacked.
He briefly introduced his wife and three children, and his mother, who currently lives in Florida. He touted his small town, Midwestern roots, something that Romney has not had since he left Michigan years ago to go to Boston.
2) Hit the Record
He attacked the record of Obama’s presidency, talking about the growing number of people living in poverty and failure. He ripped the president’s stimulus bill, the administration's connection to Solyndra, and cronyism.
He wonked out on Obamacare, showcasing brief snippets of his policy expertise. This was a targeted attempt to show that Republicans are not here to throw granny off of the cliff, but to save Medicare for future generations and make it solvent.
“The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.” BOOM.
3) Attack, Attack, Attack!
“I have never seen opponents so silent about their record.”
“Fear and division is all they’ve got let”
“With all their attack ads, the president is just throwing away money, and he’s just pretty experienced about that.”
The VP nominee is traditionally the attack dog, and mild mannered Ryan eased into this pretty well. The clean-cut 42 year old took plenty of shots at Obama, with all the grace and political skill of a statesmen 20 years his senior.
He also attacked Obama’s tendency to blame the previous administration, saying, “The man assumed power almost four years ago, isn’t it time he assumed responsibility for something?” ZING!
He ripped Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comments, talking about the drive and determination and hours that many small business owners put in to make their creations successful.
4) Appeal to Younger Voters
As the first member of Generation X to be on a major party ticket, Ryan chose to draw a generational theme. He cast the race in the same light as the struggles that were fought by generations past. He talked about the mountain debt, a Medicare program that will run out of money, and Social Security that will go broke.
He touched on how college graduates are coming out of the college still having trouble finding a job. Ryan said that recent grads should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at faded Obama posters and wondering when they will be able to get on with their lives. It was not condescending. It was a true statement with a little bit of humor that was intended to reach those that may be frustrated with the stalled Obama economy.
5) Make the Case for Mitt and Himself
Ryan began touting the accomplishments and strengths of Mitt Romney within the first few minutes. Throughout the rest of the speech, he kept coming back to how they would do things differently. With regards to Medicare, he talked about his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimers. He talked about how his family needed programs, and that a Romney Ryan ticket wants to honor them, not destroy them.
He drew upon the simple truth that we as a nation need to stop spending money that we do not have. As a former speechwriter, Paul Ryan has a gift for making complex things very simple and easy to understand, and tonight, he did that better that he may ever have before.
He told people that there is not much time left. All it takes is leadership, and someone with the courage to fight for tax fairness, cuts in spending and regulatory reform. While sometimes they are not articulated well, they sure were tonight. He touted Romney as the turnaround king, from failing businesses and the Olympics, to taking Massachusetts budget deficit and turning it into a surplus.
Before he came on stage, many people believed that he would not be able to top the incredible performances of Ann Romney and Condoleeza Rice. Paul Ryan not only succeeded expectations, but he may have lapped those that went on stage before him.
Line of the night: “That’s freedom, and I’ll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.” An ideological speech that drove the point home beautifully, this will be one for the history books. He made it a choice between leadership, and leading from behind. Between responsibility, and blame. This one drew in some new people in, without a doubt.
And after an incredible speech and 60 applause breaks, in true Ryan fashion, he exited to Led Zepplin’s ‘Rock n Roll.” \m/