Political analyst and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen tells Newsmax that the selection of 42-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan as the GOP vice presidential candidate will “certainly” help Mitt Romney attract younger voters.
But to win seniors’ votes Ryan needs to make it clear that his Medicare reform plan won’t impact today’s older Americans, according to Schoen — and Ryan can expect the Obama campaign to resort to its “class-based narrative” and seek to attack the congressman’s budget plan.
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Schoen is the author of the book “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond.”
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Schoen was asked if Romney risks being overshadowed by his running mate.
“I don’t think he’s going to be overshadowed,” Schoen says. “There’ll be about a week, 10 days with the attention on Congressman Ryan, which is appropriate. But ultimately, this race is about Gov. Romney and President Obama.”
Ryan has been in Congress for 14 years, but he is just 42 years old. As to what impact that will have on younger voters, Schoen says: “It does help, certainly, having a younger person on the ticket and somebody who’s a real success story. The real question is, Can Congressman Ryan stimulate a level of enthusiasm and interest with young people for the Republicans that heretofore has been absent?
“It’s an open question. He’s a vigorous, dynamic guy, but so far there’s scant evidence he will have the impact on young people, hypothetically, that President Obama and the Democrats had four years ago.”
Democrats have been attacking Ryan’s budget plan for a long time, specifically targeting his plans for Medicare, in hopes of frightening off seniors. What does Ryan have to do to win the votes of seniors?
“He needs to make it clear that his plan is not going to jeopardize the healthcare and the coverage of seniors,” Schoen observes.
“His plan doesn’t kick in until the baby boomer generation on balance moves through Medicare. And bottom line, the Ryan proposal needs to be folded into a larger Romney-Ryan fiscal plan that emphasizes not only entitlement reform, but economic growth and job creation.”
Democrats will concentrate their attacks against the Republican ticket on “entitlements, entitlements, and entitlements,” Schoen says.
“It’s going to be Medicare. They’re going to say he wants to turn that into a voucher system, Medicaid into a block grant and potentially privatize Social Security. That’s going to be the main line of attack for the Democrats, and time will tell if it’s effective.”
They will also attack on the tax issue, he adds.
“The Democrats are going to argue that Paul Ryan will increase taxes on everyone except the wealthy for whom he’s cut taxes. It’s going to play into the class-based narrative that the Obama campaign has been using with some effectiveness.”
Schoen was asked how big an issue the Ryan budget plan now becomes in Congress.
“That will be determined by the outcome of the November election,” he tells Newsmax. “If Ryan is successful as the vice-presidential nominee, if Gov. Romney wins, you’re going to see a swing in the Congress to embrace elements of the Ryan plan. If, on the other hand, President Obama is re-elected and the Democrats improve their position in the House and Senate, then I would say the Ryan plan is DOA.”
During the campaign Democratic House and Senate candidates are certainly going to introduce discussion of Ryan’s budget plan, Schoen says.
“I think few Republicans in swing states will embrace the Ryan plan. I saw with interest that Rick Berg, the Senate candidate for the Republicans in North Dakota, a swing state, has distanced himself from the Ryan plan. This was before Ryan’s selection. So I doubt the Republicans nationally are going to embrace the Ryan plan, particularly in swing districts.”
Schoen was asked if the addition of Paul Ryan into the race is an opportunity for the candidates and their supporters to focus more on the issues, or does it open the door for more negativity?
“I think it’s going to do both,” he says. “I think there will be more discussion of big issues like the size and scope and the role of government. I think that’s for the good, but I think it’s going to be all negative all the time. And I think Gov. Romney for one, if he’s going to get elected, needs to plan to emphasize economic growth and job creation and hopefully he’ll move in that direction with Congressman Ryan who, if nothing else, has bold new ideas for America.”
He was also asked if the selection of Ryan, a Catholic, will have an impact on the Catholic vote.
“That assumes that Catholics vote as Catholics and would vote for or against a candidate based on the presence or absence of a Catholic on the ticket,” he responds.
“I don’t really think that religiosity in and of itself is going to make a big difference.”
As for the impact the Ryan selection will have on the two parties, “I think there’s probably quiet nervousness on both sides,” Schoen adds.
“I think the Republicans are quite rightly scared that Paul Ryan’s choice could be seen as putting the issue of Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security in play in the election. I think the Democrats are worried privately that the Ryan candidacy could well put new energy and enthusiasm into the race on the Republican side.
“So I think both sides are nervous. Both sides are enthused — they see opportunities. How it plays out will hopefully be the subject of the next Newsmax interview.”
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