Did Ryan's ideas doom Romney?
November 15th, 2012
12:50 PM ET

Did Ryan's ideas doom Romney?

By Andrea Purse, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Andrea Purse is the Vice President for Communications at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The views expressed are her own.

On a Saturday morning in August, a hopeful conservative media reported gleefully about their apparent good fortune: a bright eyed, P90X –addicted, “ideas guy” would be the Republican vice presidential pick. Finally, they thought, this campaign had a visionary who would offer a bold alternative to what they saw as a failed Obama administration.

The problem? Those very ideas that conservatives called “bold” and the candidate they called “game-changing” became the noose that hanged Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney had spent much of the primary campaign disconnecting himself from past policy positions and severing ties with his own personal experience. He ran away from his former positions on everything from health care to abortion to marriage equality. Governor Romney’s listless primary campaign never caught the imagination of conservative voters who considered choosing far right candidates – first Michele Bachmann, then Herman Cain, then Rick Santorum – in an effort to avoid picking Romney as their nominee. Ultimately, Romney captured the nomination by claiming the last seat at the end of a long and at times painful game of musical chairs – not because he had articulated a policy vision for the future of the country.

Hoping to redeem himself, the choice of Paul Ryan as running mate came at a time when Romney had just endured an embarrassing gaffe-filled international trip and his campaign had failed to pick up steam during a long summer. One would think that after offending one of America’s closest allies within hours of making landfall, the campaign would have thought to add some international heft to their ticket – but as the trip wound down it was clear that all Romney could do was just try and change the subject.

More from CNN: Romney says Obama 'gifts' won him election

In the days that followed the lovely morning ceremony from the deck of the USS Wisconsin, the choice of Ryan forced the Romney campaign to either immediately stake out actual positions on key domestic policy pieces or accept being defined by default by Ryan’s existing plans. Romney, for his part, had already said his running mate’s plan was “marvelous” and that he was “very supportive of the Ryan budget plan.”

But when debates and analysis turned to the candidate’s actual policy plans, the shiny veneer of Paul Ryan, with his remarkably stellar marathon times, did not live up to the appeal the Romney campaign had counted on.

On Ryan’s biggest issue, Medicare, his plan to turn the senior citizen health care delivery system into a voucher program didn’t have the electoral punch he had hoped for. In Florida, where Romney spent no less than $44 million, voters in exit polls said that they rejected Ryan’s Medicare voucherization plan, saying they trusted Obama more (50 percent to 46 percent) when it came to managing Medicare.

And instead of championing job-creating solutions, Republicans were left to salivate over monthly employment numbers looking for any sign of weakness and expressing disappointment when the jobs picture continued to improve. They rooted against progress because they’d otherwise need to defend the Ryan budget – a plan that they recognized had absolutely no solutions to create jobs, and disinvested in crucial infrastructure investments that would spur job growth.

In fact, his budget’s promises to deliver real deficit reduction without doing away with tax breaks for big oil and the wealthiest Americans became a real liability when matched with Mitt’s rhetoric about writing off the other “47 percent of Americans.” Obama opened a 9 point lead in Ohio, the battleground state credited as the election’s decider, just after Romney matched up his rhetoric (albeit behind closed doors) with the reality of the Ryan plan. And when Ryan made a late October wade into the crucial economic issue of poverty, he went on to further demagogue the poor as government dependents despite the fact that Americans by a wide margin (63 percent to 32 percent) reject the “you’re on your own” economics that Ryan preaches.

Romney’s attempt to woo young voters (all comments about “borrowing money from your parents” notwithstanding) with a young, bright-eyed and in-shape running mate also fell flat on its face. The problem? Romney’s belief that young people don’t have the brains to realize that Ryan’s youthfulness won’t stop his call for massive cuts of up to 42 percent to Pell grants for needy students go into effect.

Romney and Ryan, both, for their parts have weighed in on "what went wrong" - blaming their failed ground game or, and this isn't a joke: Obama playing Santa Claus with minority voters and young people.  When Republicans look back at this election, though, they have to admit that doubling down on all of the failed Bush-era economic principles didn’t serve Romney or Ryan well in this election, and under any real discernment, doesn’t pass the smell test for improving our country.

soundoff (663 Responses)
  1. Colleen Kelly Mellor

    In "fight or flight" mode, the Republican candidates are surprisingly quiet and absent the national landscape, no doubt reassessing their shaken sense of reality, for the blow dealt them was serious and unexpected. Twice, now, the Repub party has put up a sham of a VP candidate who frankly scared the be-jeesus out of most of us out here. Overly- confident in their simplistic beliefs, they are both prime examples of how the Repubs get things wrong.I used to shudder when Nancy Reagan said "Just say No" as answer to young who grew up in crime-infested neighborhoods where drug deals were open and profitiable. This white woman raised in a doctor's family really believed she'd "done it right" in life, and that's how she got to where she was. There was no serendipity...no sheer luck of the draw....no natural advantages she had, starting out of the gate, and this appalled me. Both Ryan and Palin share a common denominator: They're overly-simplistic and disrespectful of the complexity of issues. And Romney's flaw? Like McCain, he hitched his star to one who doomed his candidacy.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:12 am | Reply
  2. Colleen Kelly Mellor

    And why, on earth, does commenter Sully (@Sully) get so much air time on these posts and comments? Lord, it seems folks spend more time upraiding or castigating him than in speaking to the journalist's piece. Why is that?

    November 16, 2012 at 8:15 am | Reply
  3. roy

    Romney doomed himself by making the remark in the beginning of his campaign that he didn't care about 47% of the population and his desires as president were to give more tax breaks to the rich, do away with health care, and pump two trillion more dollars into an already bloated Pentagon 47% of the population is a LOT OF VOTES.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:16 am | Reply
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The stupidity thinking of some people to believe 2 people are smarter than millions of Americans is unbelievable, but then again that's what Romney/Ryan thought. Ryan has the Republicans believing he's the smartest guy walking with his Ryan Budget Plan and that wasn't smart at all so Ryan and the Republicans all bear he blame, Romney was just the tool to get Ryan in.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:19 am | Reply
  5. POD

    Gifts did indeed lose the election for Mitt.....the gifts that the average american taxpayer was blackmailed into giving Mitt and his Wall Street Bankster cronies in 2008. A majority of the electorate then decided that putting a fox in the hen house would not be a good thing......just be more 'giving' to Wall Street

    November 16, 2012 at 8:20 am | Reply
  6. BubblesB

    Somehow, the Presidency needs to be changed to a single 6-year term. Then the President wouldn't have to spend half of the first term running for re-election. Same with Congress – Senate a single 6-year term and House a single 4-year term. No running for election/re-election before the last 6 months of the term.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:21 am | Reply
  7. yoshimoto

    Yes, speaking the truth like an adult is bad for politics. You need to keep fooling people, misleading people, attacking your opponent and keep giving stuff for free while running up the debt – that's how you get elected.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:24 am | Reply
  8. John Deatherage

    The day is coming where the Federal government will be unable to fulfill all the promises it has made. We have spent more than is produced in tax revenue and borrowed against the future to make up for the difference. We are close to maxing out our credit limit with the world. Our lenders will soon begin to demand a higher interest rate and so our borrowing costs will rise. How will Americans react when the government no longer provides for not just for the needy but for half the population.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:26 am | Reply
  9. MacInBlak70


    I agree with some of your statements, but you ARE WRONG on Obama's green energy investments! Solyndra and a number of other GREEN energy companies that were invested into that failed only comprise 5-8% of the total green energy companies Obama invested in. The other 92 % have been SUCCESSFUL! Please look it up if you don't believe me.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:29 am | Reply
  10. ViK100

    Ryan is the best!! PAUL RYAN 2016!!!

    Let's get rid off the liberals who are only destroying the moral and ethical values of America.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:35 am | Reply
  11. misty

    Even though Ryan had some outrageous ideas, Mittens doomed the election on his own.

    November 16, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
  12. scoto

    Back to your wiener-mobile Ryan. Try actually reading Ayn Rand instead of claiming you have. Its awful and you would be the bad guy.

    November 16, 2012 at 9:06 am | Reply
  13. Miss Demeanor

    When the economy is in such poor shape that many people have been out of work or working several part-time jobs, what message would you focus on if you ran for president of the US? "I'll turn things around by ending gay marriage?"
    How about: "I'll rev up the economy by taking food stamps away, because everyone using them is a drain on society?"
    What kind of fool thinks normal people long for a 50's-like society of prissy, smug, sanctimonious fundamentalists like Jerky Foulwells or worse, hate-spewing sociopaths like the Westboro Baptist's?

    November 16, 2012 at 9:08 am | Reply
  14. Brenda

    Though Mitt had some missteps, I still think he was the better choice for the Country and for jobs creation. Obama's plans will sink us. He has to stop spending so much. And that $17 trillion national debt has to start getting paid. There are not enough rich people to pay it. Unemployment will be ticking back over 8% with the next reporting and with Obamacare going into effect and the fiscal cliff, it will soon be over 9%. The middle class are in for a tax hike. Poor will suffer with fewer social services, public employees will have to take pay cuts, and we are all going to pay more for everything and have tax hikes on top of it. We are ALL in for a bumpy ride. And yes, I do blame Obama for much of it.

    November 16, 2012 at 9:11 am | Reply
  15. Norm

    So in 2016 we can expect even more extreme pandering by the Republicans.
    Their new strategy will be to tell the American people whatever they want to hear to get their votes and then just do what they want anyway if elected.
    Beware ...........

    November 16, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
  16. Political Agnostic

    The Republicans hqve not made it into the 20th Century much less the 21st Century in their thinking. Big bisiness tried again to buy the persidency, like they did back in the 1896 election only this time the people saw through their tactics of fear and lies.

    Unregulated free markets only work for the rich. The middle class grows in a responsibly regulated environment and these are the people that vote. By betting against the middle class and siding with big business the Republican party my have doomed its self to the trash heap of history.Look at the numbers of former Republicans leaving the party and changing their status to Independent.

    Time will tell but unless the Republicans stops pandering to the extreme right and to corporations they should expect to find their party appearing next to the Whig party in history books.

    November 16, 2012 at 9:24 am | Reply
  17. robert

    Had Romney got in and something would happen to him, can you imagine Ryan as president? What the GOP did not figure on is many white registered moderate republicians voted for obama as a result of the Tea Partys action over the last two years in congress. When all the dust settles I believe that the TEA Party will have gotten Obama elected!!!

    November 16, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
  18. Name*Daniel

    MITT...you are exactly what Republican look like...all white, greedy, old and boaring. You think that other race are nothing but parasite. If you republicans still think that you are oh the saver and protector of America, wake up from your fantasy world, America is color of Bentton.

    November 16, 2012 at 9:54 am | Reply
    • gary eichel

      you think like that and you will end up like mexico or china without the white workers and doers in your country you will be the way of greece very soon

      November 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  19. Tony

    Mitt Romney should have chosen the Hockey mum with lipstick...lol

    November 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  20. gary eichel

    i am a canadian and i cant believe that you would want to go down this road to socialism i am far from a racest but the comment romney made whether you like it or not is true 47% of you are on the government dole and you like that you are promised a better life style but just like hostess i hope more companies in your country close the doors and you all end up on welfare or food stamps or whatever you want to call it and to think that taxing the rich is going to get you a better life is the biggest joke you will ever hear you will all still be living in the dream that the democtates are going to get you a better life so you can sit at home while the doers of your country provide you a life style

    November 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  21. rev101

    Romney – Two time plus looser, don't go away mad. Just go away.

    November 19, 2012 at 4:57 am | Reply
  22. Ann

    Secession....really! We saw how that worked out the last time.

    In all honesty I would rather take my chances with Obama than Romney any day. I am disappointed in the reactions of some Americans after our president won reelection. Get over it all you racists and bigots-A black man is president and he is here for the next four years. Several of you made promises that you would leave the US if a black man won the presidency-well he did! Take your own advice and be gone! You can try to erase it from your delusional minds but you can never erase history!

    The next president may be a women or Hispanic, and the list goes on. Swallow that pill!

    November 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Jonathan

      Ann, you have to be a fu kin g idiot to think Obama is black or cares about black Americans.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Reply
      • Ann

        In response to Jonathan-"Ann, you have to be a fu kin g idiot to think Obama is black or cares about black Americans"

        I do think that President Obama care about blacks-but beyond that-I think he care about whites, Hispanics, Native Americans, gays, women, and every race and ethnicity in America. You are a sad and angry person. You are also ignorant! Please take the time to read more. Your time should be spend reading instead of making your self sound so foolish.

        "you have to be a fu kin g idiot to think Obama is black or cares about black Americans" is such a sad comment. I wish you the best and please let me know if you would like me to provide you some some facts about OUR president.

        March 10, 2015 at 9:05 am |
  23. Jonathan

    If only those that paid taxes were allowed to vote, then Obama would have been toast.


    November 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  24. gamini samarasinghe

    He was predestined to lose!

    November 21, 2012 at 4:57 am | Reply
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