GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has ignited nationwide grass-roots support for the GOP ticket.
Positive reaction and outright enthusiasm in response to Ryan’s selection poured in Saturday from several tea party sources.
FreedomWorks president and CEO Matt Kibbe told Newsmax the response on conservative social networks to Romney’s announcement was “immediately and overwhelmingly positive.”
Similarly, TheTeaParty.net leader Todd Cefaratti told Newsmax his organization is “extremely happy” with the Ryan pick.
“Not only is Congressman Ryan one of the most intelligent members of Congress,” said Cefaratti, “he is also in touch with the grassroots . . . Ryan said, ‘We must re-apply our founding principles.’ That is exactly what the tea party movement is all about.”
Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer told Newsmax: “I’m very excited. I think it is a bold move, the boldest thing that the party or Mitt Romney has done for this entire campaign, or for the past couple of years actually.
“And I think to get us back on the path to prosperity, it’s going to take bold, tough decisions,” she said. “Paul Ryan not only knows what needs to be done, but he is bold enough to go out there and do it, and tell the American people the cold hard facts that aren’t pretty, that nobody wants to talk about . . . I think that’s what we need.”
Kremer said her initial favorite for the job had been Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. But after staying up all night Friday following Twitter and considering the impact of a Romney-Ryan ticket, she changed her mind.
“As I thought about it, it made more sense; and I think Paul Ryan is the best choice,” she told Newsmax shortly after Romney made his announcement. “Obama and his campaign are so good at politicizing everything. But you can’t politicize the numbers. The numbers speak for themselves, and there’s nobody that can go out there and give the cold hard facts the way Paul Ryan can.
“So I think it was actually a brilliant move for Romney to do this.”
The enthusiasm of grass-roots activists could prove critical for the GOP, considering that it is relying on their get-out-the-vote efforts at the precinct level to offset big labor’s turnout machine on Election Day. Recent polls show only about 4 percent of voters remain undecided, compared to 11 percent at this point in the 2008 election.
While some of those voters may well change their minds before Election Day, the Ryan choice suggests both campaigns see enthusiasm with the base to be just as critical as appealing to independent-minded swing voters.
The jubilant reaction to the Ryan selection on Saturday came from a wide range of conservatives.
Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol told Fox News it was “a strong pick, a bold pick, a daring pick.”
Commentator Charles Krauthammer told Fox News the choice “shifts the whole debate,” and predicted the Romney-Ryan ticket is likely to prevail in November.
On the social conservative front, Americans United for Life Action President and CEO Charmaine Yoest praised the Ryan as “an unambiguous defender of the need for a pro-life vision for America.”
But by far, the most enthusiastic hosannas hailed from the conservative grass-roots movement that contends establishment politicians from both parties have pushed America perilously close to insolvency.
FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe called Ryan “one of us,” and issued a plea for grass-roots conservatives around the country to defend him against an expected onslaught from the left. “They will try to destroy him,” Kibbe predicted.
A statement from the Tea Party Patriots, meanwhile, said the organization welcomes the Ryan pick.
“With this selection, Gov. Romney and the Republican Party make it clear that they have accepted the Tea Party Patriots' values of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets as the best course of action for economic recovery and restoring personal freedom and individual responsibility to our national values,” it stated.
Decentralized tea party organizations all around American endorsed the pick as well, but some of them sounded more guarded. Tea Party WDC leader Lisa Miller, for example, called Ryan “a politically smart choice.”
“Let's hope that this is the start of something we can support wholeheartedly,” she wrote in a statement to supporters. “We need more real conservatives elected to all levels of government to bolster and encourage existing conservatives and to apply pressure to the RINOs [Republicans in name only] and Democrats to cut government spending and regulation.”
Pundits will debate in coming weeks whether voters are really ready to deal with the reality of out-of-control deficits and entitlements.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen told Newsmax that 66 percent of Americans believe the federal government should reduce its spending in order to boost the economy. Keynesian economists, however, warn that slashing public-sector spending would have precisely the opposite effect.
As U.S. debt spirals over $16 trillion, doing something to restrain entitlement spending — a key element of the Ryan budget proposals — becomes more urgent.
Commented Kibbe: “I think the failure of Republicans to explain an alternative to Obama’s tax-and-spend agenda, including on entitlements, has been the main reason why Americans haven’t had an opportunity to choose between more of the same, and an honest reform agenda."
He added: “The head-in-the-sand approach to Medicare that Republicans have always been inclined to take has allowed Democrats to demagogue, to misrepresent, by running ads like throw Grandma off the cliff. The best defense is a good offense, because our ideas are the only ones that actually provide real healthcare and retirement security in the future.”
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