For What It's Worth:

Self-important political analysis from an American college student

Month: August, 2012

Kevin Smith for Governor

Like many Republicans voters who will cast a vote for our party’s nominee in this year’s gubernatorial election, I was an early supporter of Ovide Lamontagne. Mr. Lamontagne is a good man, a committed activist, and a man whose deep faith is inspiring and moving to all who meet him.

However, after a great deal of research and consideration, I will be voting for Kevin Smith in our September 11th Primary.

Ronald Reagan once said that our Party needs to be the party of bold colors, not pale pastels. Those following this race know that Kevin Smith has been the candidate of big ideas and bold solutions since the onset of his campaign. He has put forth an aggressive plan to dramatically cut business taxes to bring new companies to our state, he has proposed education reform that would ensure a stronger future for New Hampshire, and he has even said that he will be Deval Patrick’s worst nightmare by poaching Massachusetts businesses and bringing their capital into the Granite State.

In the candidate debates for Governor, Smith has shown a mastery of all things New Hampshire. He understands the problems that face our state, and he understands what solutions are needed to tackle these challenges. He can explain the conservative message like no candidate for New Hampshire governor in recent memory, and would be the best person to debate Jackie Cilley or Maggie Hassan in the general election. There are few people in politics that can combine the wonk-ish knowledge of the issues with the political savvy to spread that knowledge effectively, and Kevin Smith is as good as it gets.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani endorsed Smith’s campaign and traveled to New Hampshire to share his support. The reason is clear: Giuliani turned around New York by putting together a bold agenda built on big ideas. He dissected every problem from every angle and crafted bold solutions to solve these problems. Smith’s campaign for governor mirrors this strategy, which would be a welcome change to the way our state does business.

For the past eight years, New Hampshire has had a governor who, in many ways, effectively ran the day-to-day operations of the state.  It’s time now for a governor who is ready to look beyond the day-to-day; someone who is looking at our future and can structure a long-term plan for the Granite State. Kevin Smith is the only candidate for governor whose campaign centers on this theme – that it’s time for New Hampshire to make a strategic plan for our future that drastically improves our way of life.

I had originally decided that I would keep my support for Kevin Smith quiet and that my contribution to his campaign would be to simply to vote in his favor. Upon further thought, I realized that I would be doing a disservice to our state if I didn’t take further action. There are rare occurrences in which a candidate perfectly fits the time and place in which they are running. Kevin Smith is that type of candidate and the time is now.

After taking a beating in the press for the past two years, our party needs a Republican Governor who is a leader, not a manager. We need someone who can stand up for our conservative beliefs with conviction and eloquence, and who will focus on the important issues to the people of New Hampshire.

On September 11th, GOP Primary voters have the opportunity to nominate a once-in-a-generation, Reaganesque leader who has the bold ideas to bring our state to new heights. That man is Kevin Smith.

Meeting Paul Ryan

 A First Row Look at the Ryan Unveiling

I was in a friend’s room late Friday night when one of my friends entered and said, “Mitt Romney is announcing tomorrow.”

The game stopped immediately. I ignored the never-ending argument of who was a better champion, Bill Russell or Babe Ruth (it made sense at the time), and rushed over to a lap top in the corner. It was true; Mitt Romney would announce his pick in Virginia – our neighbor in Washington, D.C. Being from New Hampshire, I momentarily forgot that not the rule of “If it’s in the next state, you can take a day trip” does not apply to the Commonwealth. But when I found out that the drive would take 3.5 hours to get to Norfolk for the announcement, that didn’t matter enough to deter me…Neither did the fact that I would have to pick up a car across town at American University… Or that the doors opened to the announcement at 7:45 A.M….and was likely a first-come, first-serve affair – despite the ticket requirement.

So, I left my dorm at 2:30, hailed a cab, searched Tenleytown in the pouring rain for a Zipcar, picked up a friend, and drove the pre-sunrise way to Norfolk, V.A.

From 4:00 A.M. to 7:00, we asked ourselves “Are we really doing this?” about a hundred times.

The answer was given when we made it through the perfectly-orchestrated entrance next to the U.S.S. Wisconsin and into the staging area where Governor Mitt Romney would announce Congressman Paul Ryan as his sidekick on “America’s Comeback Team”.

We took a spot along the rope-line in the front row and watched as Governor George Allen, a few other local dignitaries, and thousands of supporters crowded the beautiful bayside venue.

As a NH Primary enthusiast, I have seen many of Mitt Romney’s events. Members of the crowd at Mitt Romney events are always interested, but never excited. Romney events generally provide little electricity and no euphoria; except on Saturday.

When VA Governor Bob McDonnell introduced Mitt Romney, the capacity crowd erupted. When he announced that Paul Ryan was his selection for the first time out loud, fists pumped in the air and hands reached toward the heavens. There was a sense of “We can do this” that has been lacking at Romney has fallen behind in the polls.

When Paul Ryan exited U.S.S. Wisconsin and walked toward the stage, the crowd was even more fired up. The walk-up music was fit for an epic battle at the end of a cheesy Hollywood movie, making it perfect to set the tone for the home stretch of the 2012 campaign.

When Romney introduced Ryan as “the next President of the United States,” my friend and I looked over at Ann Romney. We read her lips as she said, “Are you kidding me? Come on Mitt!” to herself. When he walked down to join his family, he was not greeted with the hug that he expected. Instead, his wife and sons pointed out his error.

For the first time in my history of following him, I saw Mitt Romney showed genuine emotion. “Did I?” he asked with a concerned look on his face, before putting the smile back on and making his correction on stage.

Meanwhile, on stage, Paul Ryan strutted on stage to a wild ovation – much louder than the one that Romney had received. His speech was constantly interrupted by applause from supporters, and interrupted once by someone who literally professed his love for them.

At the conclusion of Ryan’s introductory speech to the nation, it was clear that Team Romney is fired up over his selection. I looked back to see RNC Chaiman Reince Preibus shaking the hand of the Romney staffer next to him, both of them beaming and laughing. Next to him, Romney advisor Ed Gillespie squeezed the woman next to him (I sure hope that was his wife) in a gigantic hug, and the two jumped in unison like giddy cheerleaders at the conclusion of a high school basketball game. Neither Preibus nor Gillespie are known for being over-emotional or energetic, so the sight of their pure euphoria is meaningful.

Afterwards, the Romney’s and Ryan’s joined the candidates on stage and around the ropeline, where supporters stood ten-deep for a chance to shake their hands.

As Paul Ryan approached our area, his wife Janna and their two young sons stood behind him.

The man next to me – a tall, slender former Marine – shouted, “Congratulations, Mrs. Ryan!” and she walked over to our area. I shook her hand and said, “Congratulations, Mrs. Ryan.” Her two sons, both under the age of 10, showed the fatigue of two little guys who had been through a long 24 hours (they both spent most of their father’s speech yawning). I crouched down to their level and said, “Congratulations guys!” and put my hand up for a high five. At last, they became children again, and the youngest smacked my hand hard enough to make it sting.

Their dad reached our point in line a few minutes later.

“We’re praying for you, Congressman. Keep the faith,” I said.

He paused and his eyes locked onto mine. “That’s the nicest thing I could ask for. Thank you so much, and thanks for coming out today. We appreciate it.”

In those minutes on the ropeline I figured out Paul Ryan’s biggest asset to the campaign: Humanity. While Mitt Romney is seen as stiff, Paul Ryan is natural. While Mitt Romney is seen as awkward, Paul Ryan is comfortable. While Mitt Romney is seen as snobbish, Paul Ryan’s Midwestern charm give him a genuine down-to-earth nature.

People will have genuine beefs with the Ryan Roadmap and some of Ryan’s social stands in the past. But it’s hard to attacked Paul Ryan, especially since he doesn’t do much attacking on his own.

If the Left wants to lob bombs for the next 10 weeks, they’ll have to focus on policy; accusing the man who has a 10-year-old girl on one hand and a beautiful wife on the other of waging a “war on women” will hardly stick.

After the rally, my friend and I drove back through treacherous, depression-inducing traffic back to Washington. The phrase “I can’t believe we just did that”, with expletives tossed into various places of the sentence, was repeated at least 50 times.

Going Bold.

(Written at 2:00 AM on August 11)

Either the boys from Boston are pulling the greatest Bait ‘n Switch in the history of American politics, or Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be the Republican nominee for Vice President in 2012. While I tend to be skeptical of self-important “sources” and those who are desperate to break news, it seems like a safe lock that Paul Ryan will be Mitt Romney’s presumptive running mate, as of eight hours from now.

 

Over the past few weeks, the discussion has been about whether Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) would go with the “safe” pick, or “go bold.” With Paul Ryan, he chose the latter; he reared back for the home run swing. The only person who can decide whether he makes contact with the pitch is Mitt Romney – with some assistance from Rep. Ryan.

 

Tomorrow morning, many Americans will ask themselves, “Who is Paul Ryan?” The answer is simple: The most courageous politician of the 21st century. Period.

 

Hyperbole? Hardly. Medicare and Social Security are set to go bankrupt before my generation even turns 40 years old, but reforming these two government programs is known as “the third rail of American politics” because of the political difficulties that come with reform. Nevertheless, Paul Ryan introduced a plan to make both programs solvent, to pay down our debt, and to put our nation on a path to prosperity.

 

This “Ryan Plan” has been demonized by Democrats for the past year-and-a-half, and has been a staple of Republican candidacies at the same time. It is divisive. It is polarizing. And it’s exactly what Mitt Romney needs.

 

As a conservative, I am nervous for the next few weeks. Mitt Romney’s campaign will have to define the Ryan Plan better than the Obama campaign defines it. As a Republican, this fact makes me nervous: Romney has done a poor job of defining everything from his record to his first name during this election.

 

At the same time, this may show a shift in the Romney strategy. The Mitt Romney of 2012 has been over-safe, over-calculated, and over-analyzed. This could mark a long-awaited change.

 

To use a tired basketball metaphor, Mitt Romney has been holding the ball for the past year, not realizing that he was trailing behind. Today, Mitt Romney began dribbling toward the basket.

 

This is his move. This is his drive to the hoop.

 

Many pundits will speculate over the course of the next 24 hours: What does the selection of Paul Ryan mean? The answer to this question depends on how the Romney campaign moves forward.

 

If this means that Mitt Romney is taking the gloves off and is prepared for the title fight of his life, then the Paul Ryan pick was brilliant. By going “bold,” Romney has set a new tone from his campaign. Rather than responding to disgusting Obama Super-PAC ads with nothing more than press releases and staff quotes, Mitt Romney is ready to call out the President on his policies. Rather than repeat the word “jobs” until he loses the sense of feeling in his lips, maybe Mitt Romney is ready to take on the President on his plethora of failures. And maybe, just maybe, Mitt Romney is ready to point out the basic fact that the President has done nothing to change the fiscal trajectory of a nation that is on a path toward destruction by debt and deficit.

 

[Imagine the V.P. debates in October, when Paul Ryan sits across from Joe Biden and says, “Joe, these programs have been facing a path of failure since you joined the senate over 30 years ago, and you haven’t done a thing to fix them. Your status quo has failed the American people, and it’s time for a new direction.”]

 

For the first time since challenging a protester in Iowa a year ago, Mitt Romney has showed that there’s more to his candidacy than tired talking points and over-protective strategy.

 

In one of the best columns of her career, Peggy Noonan recently stated that it’s time for Romney to pick a fight. Tomorrow morning, he will name a running mate who has been willing to take more punches than anyone else in Congress. At long, long last, Mitt Romney will toss the gloves aside.

 

And let’s be clear about one final thing: While the Ryan Selection is bold, it is not Palinesque. The only thing that Ryan and Palin have in common is the foam that lines liberals’ mouths at the mention of their names. Paul Ryan is an economist. He is chairman of the House Budget Committee. He has a record as an intellectual heavyweight who is serious about solving the nation’s biggest problems. Most importantly, Paul Ryan is prepared to be President tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow, Paul Ryan will be introduced to America as the next GOP candidate for Vice President, and Mitt Romney has a chance to finally re-introduce his candidacy to the nation. If the Ryan Selection is the first step in a  final, bold push for the Presidency, Mitt Romney is on his way to the White House.