Explore Howard.com: August 14, 2012
By Lindsey McPherson
When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, as his running mate last week, members of both political parties around the country and in Howard County welcomed the news.
"I think Paul Ryan is an excellent choice," Howard County Republican Party chairwoman Loretta Shields said. "Paul Ryan's background in Washington with the understanding the budget ... dovetails perfectly with what Mitt Romney wants to do."
Howard County Democratic Party Chairman Michael McPherson also was excited by Romney's choice of Ryan.
"Ryan has a record," McPherson said. "You can take that record and hang it around his neck like you'd hang an albatross. I don't think it's the kind of record that really will endear him to the electorate in general, particularly seniors ... because he is talking about drastically doing away with Social Security, Medicare and those kinds of things."
Shields said she's impressed by Ryan's "exuberance" and that "he's not afraid to tell the truth."
McPherson, meanwhile, called Ryan "a radical right winger" who has been "one of the problems" in Congress.
Ryan, 42, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. He has served seven consecutive terms, representing Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District.
As the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan is most known for his plan for fixing the federal government's budget and addressing the deficit.
State Sen. Allan Kittleman, a West Friendship Republican who will serve as a Romney delegate at the Republican National Convention later this month, said Romney choosing Ryan as his running mate tells voters he is serious about fixing the economy, starting with the federal government's debt crisis.
"Paul Ryan brings great experience and understanding of the national debt and spending crisis that we're experiencing, and I think that he's a straight shooting honest individual who will tell people the way things are," Kittleman said.
Democratic Gov.Martin O'Malley has some other feelings about Ryan's experience and background, which he shared via twitter.
"Paul Ryan brings to Mitt Romney's candidacy a strong commitment to end Medicare as we know it," O'Malley tweeted. "The Romney-Ryan plan would take us back to the same failed policies of the Bush years that drove us into recession and record job losses."
Meanwhile, many people who visited the Republicans' booth at the Howard County Fair on Aug. 11, just hours after the vice president announcement, were thrilled to hear Romney chose Ryan, Shields said.
"The reaction I got at the fairgrounds, people were excited," she said. "So it's not just us insiders."
Reigniting the conservative Republican base is why McPherson said he believes Romney chose Ryan. And while that might work, McPherson said, Ryan likely will turn off some of the swing voters Romney needs support from to win.
"I think clearly this is a choice that will turn off the majority of the independents because they're looking for somebody that's a little more conciliatory in working on the problems that confront this country," McPherson said, noting Ryan "is not a good choice for people who want to sit down at the table and work these things out."
Kittleman, however, sees Ryan as someone who is committed to solving the nation's fiscal problems.
"You don't necessarily have to like his solutions, but at least he's willing to step up and say we need to fix things," Kittleman said.