Ryan advocates, including some of his colleagues and high-profile conservative elites, believe Romney will lose if he doesn’t make a more assertive case for his candidacy and that selecting the 42-year-old wonky golden boy would sound a clarion call to the electorate about the sort of reforms the presumptive GOP nominee wants to bring to Washington. Call them the “go bold” crowd. [...]Setting aside the mind-numbing fact that Paul Ryan is what passes for intellectual substance in the party, there's just a little problem with him as veep for Romney. The voter segment he most needs to really turn out big for him could totally abandon him if he picks the guy who wants to destroy Medicare. That's right, the 50+ crowd is already fearful and uncertain about their financial security and the commitment of government to making sure Social Security and Medicare remain strong. And, new polling from AARP shows that Romney is already struggling with them.
“If Ryan’s budget is going to be a central part of the debate over the next three months, who better to explain and defend it than Paul Ryan?” wrote William Kristol and Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard in making the case for the Janesville, Wis., native. [...]
“I think the country will recognize bumper-sticker politics versus true substance and Paul offers depth and substance,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “There’s no doubt Democrats would demonize whoever is put up as the vice presidential nominee. That’s a given. But Paul’s been able to withstand that, go on the morning talk shows and show substance. [...] Republicans have to make the case about what they’re going to do in 2013,” the Utahn said. “And there’s nobody better at making the case than Paul Ryan.”
The worry balloons when it comes to Social Security and Medicare: 95 percent say “Medicare is critical to maintaining the health of seniors” and 88 percent say the next president and Congress “need to strengthen Medicare so that it is able to provide health coverage in retirement for future generations.” Very large majorities of older voters are tuned into the campaign and want to hear concrete plans for protecting and strenthening Social Security (72 percent) and Medicare (70 percent). When they actually start hearing, concretely, about the Romney/Ryan plan, Romney's support among older voters will erode.
The Romney embrace of the Ryan budget is already a big problem for him with these voters. Putting Ryan on the ticket could be a disaster for him in trying to win this key constituency. But will he be able to quell the fears the hard-core conservative base continues to harbor about him otherwise?