RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Just days before his campaign stop in Chillicothe tonight, Mitt Romney — the former governor of Massachusetts and presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States — announced on Saturday his pick of Rep. Paul Ryan as running mate.
Ryan is a representative of Wisconsin’s 1st U.S. House District, and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and chair of the House Budget Committee.
“I am speaking for myself, but I am thrilled to death with the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket. I think it is an excellent choice,” Kay Reynolds, co-chairperson of the Scioto County Republican Party.
“I know we all really, really liked Senator Rob Portman and we’re so happy he was in this short list. Initially you were a little disappointed because Rob has been such a good friend to our area, but after I thought about it I was still very happy to have Rob continuing his service in the Senate and to know we are going to continue to have his voice there.”
She called Ryan a great choice, and said he brings a strong financial background and more common sense to Romney’s ticket.
“I look forward to working on this campaign, and I feel certain that the people of Scioto County are going to support this team on the Nov. 6 election,” Reynolds said.
Scioto County Republican Party Chairman Rodney Barnett agreed with Reynolds’ enthusiasm for Ryan.
“He’s pro-life, pro-business, pro-family, and I think all of these components resonate very well with our community. I have found him to be, and feel he is, an intellect and very enthusiastic. I think this will be very much a compatibility factor with Mr. Romney,” Barnett said.
But not everyone is as excited about the possibility of Paul Ryan as vice president.
Randy Basham, chairman of the Scioto County Democratic Party, said Romney’s pick of Ryan was to appease Tea Party voters who already weren’t comfortable with Romney’s liberal policies in Massachusetts.
“He is the guy that pushed through the House and got passed to end Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid as we know it in the Ryan Budget that was passed in the House so many months back. It’s going to be an appeasement to the Tea Party people that want to give the top one percent another tax break, make permanent the one that was passed by Bush, and to balance that budget on the backs of working people by destroying Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare,” Basham said.
He drew parallels to the 2008 election when Republican Sen. John McCain picked Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, and accused the Tea Party of taking over the Republican Party.
“I think the public was looking for somebody like a Portman, who is non-controversial, or (Minnesota Governor Tim) Pawlenty or a (Florida Senator) Marco Rubio. I don’t think any of these three were hardcore, far-right extremists to the Tea Party and I think that was the selection they made to bring on the Tea Party,” Basham said.
Basham said if Romney campaigned for president the way he governed Massachusetts, he would have alienated traditional Republican voters.
“It’s going to help us contrast the difference between the two candidates,” he said. “I think it makes it a clear choice for the voters out there whenever they select the presidential candidate, to know that Romney has fell into the extremist party and he’s going to appease them.”
Reynolds said the Tea Party does not have that much influence over the Republican Party.
“I think the term ‘Tea Party’ is being used to in place of the word ‘conservative’ and the Tea Party itself is a group of individuals that want a balanced budget. I do not feel that Paul Ryan represents only one little splinter. If he only represented one little splinter of people, he wouldn’t have been elected to — what is it, his seventh term?” she said.
Romney and Portman will campaign at the Ross County Courthouse, in Chillicothe, tonight. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the event begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are free online at romneyinchillicothe.eventbrite.com, or through the Ross County Republican Party headquarters by calling Ross County Republican Party Chairperson Diane Carnes at 740-703-0138.
The Scioto County Republican and Democratic parties will also be attending the event in Chillicothe to show their support and opposition, respectively.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.