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Posted Thursday, August 16, 2012, at 9:03 PM


Mitt Romney's choice of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee delights the party's right wing and makes the race against President Obama and Joe Biden more a contest of ideas, of light as well as heat. For the first time in history, it brings the would-be president on board with a legislative plan for which the veep nominee is already famous, the "Ryan Budget" that would cut Medicare expenditures by making it a voucher system, among other big changes. Ryan attempts to deal decisively with deficit spending and the ever-ballooning national debt, and it seems Romney-Ryan's ability to sell the budget will do a great deal to decide the election.

On the one hand, we have Obamacare, already enacted and substantially upheld by the Supreme Court, and on the other the Ryan plan, passed 228-191 by the House in March and since then stalled in the Senate, as focal points of the race. It's a gamble by Romney, but it looks like a smart one because he would lose a lovability contest with Obama. Romney's best chance is to make it a test of competing ideas and persuade the voters his ideas are better. His chief asset is his image as a man who understands finance and could deal successfully with the country's economic problems. His choice of Ryan, an economist and chairman of the House Budget Committee, enhances that image and puts him in control of the race. It pre-determines most of the content of the debates, which is where, given the closeness of it, the race will be decided.

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James R. Campbell
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