We're seeing a new line of attack from the GOP, stressing the need for bipartisanship. This takes some chutzpah, as Michelle Bachmann would say. After spending the last 3+ years determined to obstruct any progress endorsed by the Obama administration, Republicans have a difficult task of calling themselves agents of bipartisanship.
But in the first debate, there was Romney touting his ability to work with a MA legislature that was 87% Democratic, and Ryan repeated the claim last night. To his credit, Biden was quick to point out that Romney-Ryan isn't even contesting Massachusetts. And that point needs to be fleshed out further.
Romney's one term as governor of a blue state, but one with a history of electing Republican governors almost as frequently as they elected Democratic ones, was far from a success. Yes, there was Romneycare, but the MA health care law despite its commonly applied nickname wasn't really a Romney initiative. There was going to be a health care law in MA, thanks to that Democratic legislature, the leading health care institutions based in and around Boston, and the vision and tenacity of Massachusetts' senior senator Ted Kennedy. Romney simply had to decide if he was going to be part of the process or not. Kudos to him for participating, and it's a modest plus in his record. But the rest of that record is not so hot. And his less than stellar leadership resulted in his decision not to run for re-election, which by common consensus he would have lost.
You see, Massachusetts has no great love of the Mittster, and the polling in 2012 reflects precisely that. And even after electing a Republican to fill the vacancy by Senator Kennedy's death, the state is clearly poised to reject Scott Brown as well. This cannot be chalked up to the old notion that Massachusetts is a Democratic bastion. If that were the case, neither Romney nor Brown would have been elected in the first place. Rather, it shows that Massachusetts is not so party affiliated as many would think. They'll give a Republican a shot, but after having done that with Romney and now with Scott Brown, they've seen the error in their ways.
Now let's turn to Wisconsin, Ryan's home state. There you have a sitting Republican governor, one who survived a recall election despite being as polarizing a figure as that state has seen since, say, Joe McCarthy. In many cases, a running mate is chosen for his or her ability to draw in a state that would be an electoral plus, as well as to leverage some regional, experiential, or ideological assets. Ryan certainly gave Romney some credibility with the Tea Party sector and the Republican base that was none to hot on him. But how's he done with bringing in Wisconsin? Remember Wisconsin was one of those states in 2010 that was supposed to have soured on the president and was expressing its buyer's remorse in the midterm elections. So where's Wisconsin today?
Most polling shows Obama with a significant lead, but more importantly he's at 50 or 51 %, so it doesn't even really matter what the GOP does if that solid majority support holds.
So when was the last time that a presidential ticket was poised to lose both homestates of the presidential and vp candidates? We heard a lot about Al Gore's inability to win Tennessee in 2000, but Lieberman brought Connecticut in. McCain and Palin both saw their states in the win column for them. But Massachusetts and Wisconsin, states that probably know something about the GOP's standard bearers, are not too impressed with Romney/Ryan. Voters who've not yet made up their minds might want to consider why that is.
And with respect to bipartisanship, if you can't attract the votes of people for whom you've worked, how likely is a fictional Romney-Ryan administration to get along with a Democratic opposition. As President Obama pointed out in debate #1, a president Romney will have an interesting first meeting with the Democratic delegation after he's made repealing the signature Democratic achievement of the ACA his day-one target for repeal. How's that first meeting going to unfold? Bipartisanship? Oh sure.