When Paul Ryan was selected as the GOP nominee for vice president, the decision prompted cheers from both the right and the left. After his speech at the RNC, however, the Republicans are cheering louder, and Democrats realize they greatly underestimated the seven-term Congressman from Wisconsin.
Here are five reasons Paul Ryan's speech makes him and Mitt Romney into a legitimate threat to defeat President Obama in 2012:
1. Ryan promoted Mitt Romney and showed himself as an excellent compliment.
"A generation apart. That makes us different, but not in any of the things that matter. Mitt Romney and I both grew up in the heartland, and we know what places like Wisconsin and Michigan look like when times are good, when people are working, when families are doing more than just getting by. And we both know it can be that way again. We’ve had very different careers – mine mainly in public service, his mostly in the private sector. He helped start businesses and turn around failing ones. By the way, being successful in business – that’s a good thing."
Although the Republican Convention has had a number of great speakers, some, including most notably New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, have been criticized for not promoting Mitt Romney enough. Paul Ryan did so effectively by making sure he did not overshadow Romney; rather, he showed how he compliments Romney well. He used their differences as a source for strength and brought forth the combined prowess of a full ticket. He lauded Romney’s business experience and made the Obama attack ads look petty for trying to use his Bain Capital experience to disqualify him as a legitimate candidate.
2. He effectively attacked President Obama.
“Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What’s missing is leadership in the White House. And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old. The man assumed office almost four years ago – isn’t it about time he assumed responsibility?”
Ryan made the President’s economic record appeal to the commonsense American by showing that Obama prioritized healthcare reform, while the economy remained in shambles. He acknowledged the promise of the Obama administration and how Obama won the state of Wisconsin, but said that the President did not use his four years in power to focus on the economy. He gave the president the benefit of the doubt by saying that he inherited a tough economy, but pointed out that he cannot continue to blame the Bush administration for his own woes.
He brought forth an effective attack on Obamacare, by showing that President Obama failed to lead on the economy and pursued an entitlement that Americans were not asking for during a financial crisis. This very logical approach was crucial in rationalizing Obama’s four-year opportunity to change the situation in the White House, coupled with his inability to do so despite having both houses of Congress in his party’s control at the start.
3. He appealed to younger Americans and senior citizens.
“Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can’t find the work they studied for, or any work at all.”
“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”
This was the best line of the speech. For the millennials, the Obama message made an emotional appeal, evidenced by his domination of the youth vote of 2008. Although many college students were captivated by the Obama message, Ryan pointed out a stark reality about the current jobless rate among college graduates. He juxtaposed hope with reality, by lauding the Obama administration’s “serious” promises, but exposing the lackluster outcomes.
“We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it’s there for my Mom today. Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.”
The common refrain against Paul Ryan is that he will “end Medicare as we know it.” Ryan showed that he knows firsthand the good that comes from Medicare by telling very riveting accounts of his grandmother, and his mother’s experience with the program. He positioned Medicare right next to Obamacare, by dutifully pointing out the $716 billion of Medicare funds used for Obamacare. He very craftily made Medicare and Obamacare a choice, and made a direct appeal to the elderly and the millions of Americans who disagree with Obamacare by showing that he is better served to protect their interests than Obama.
4. He appealed to small businesses and hard-working Americans.
“And if small businesspeople say they made it on their own, all they are saying is that nobody else worked seven days a week in their place. Nobody showed up in their place to open the door at five in the morning. Nobody did their thinking, and worrying, and sweating for them.”
“My Mom started a small business, and I’ve seen what it takes. Mom was 50 when my Dad died. She got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison. She earned a new degree and learned new skills to start her small business. It wasn’t just a new livelihood. It was a new life. And it transformed my Mom from a widow in grief to a small businesswoman whose happiness wasn’t just in the past. Her work gave her hope. It made our family proud. And to this day, my Mom is my role model.”
This anecdote was structured precisely to fill the gap that many perceive Mitt Romney has with the average American. By talking about his mother in this context, and emotionally speaking about the death of his father, he demonstrated his understanding of the trials faced by everyday Americans in today’s economy. He used President Obama’s old campaign slogan of “hope” and showed that hardworking, average Americans trusted the President’s emotional appeal but did not get anything in return.
5. He was all about straight talk.
“By themselves, the failures of one administration are not a mandate for a new administration. A challenger must stand on his own merits. He must be ready and worthy to serve in the office of president.”
“The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us – all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this.”
Paul Ryan was very blunt in his speech, and that is the greatest accomplishment. He did not speak in the name of political correctness, but rather put forth the facts on the ground that currently describe the American economy. He not only put forth a commonsense reason for a change in leadership, but also talked about why the Romney-Ryan team stands on its own merits both in the public and private sectors.
In sum, Paul Ryan showed in charismatic fashion to the American people that the Republican Party brings forth the same youth and exuberance that candidate Obama promised four years ago. This time, however, he presented a new administration that will bring real change you can believe in.