STORY #1: Badger State battle?
Most pundits agree that former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) never wanted to shatter the Earth with his running mate selection. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has his strong points, but the ability to shatter the Earth isn’t one of them, although I will give him credit for being a rare politician who enjoys delving deeply into policy matters. But what do the numbers say? The Obama team is making hay out of the fact that Romney’s poll numbers haven’t moved much at all since the selection announcement – except, possibly, in Wisconsin.
The land flowing with cheese and bratwurst has 10 electoral votes – not a defining number, unless it’s the last state to be too close to call come Election Night, but not a number you can easily dismiss. If the GOP took Wisconsin this year, their win would be more symbolic than mathematical. Wisconsin has gone blue since 1988, and President Obama took it by 14 points in 2008. And the Midwest is where everything important happens on the stump. Keep your eye on the dairyland.
STORY #2: Thanks, but no thanks
Somehow Ryan’s turnaround on the 2008 stimulus package neither surprises nor bothers me. He’s been spending a good deal of time complaining about how “wasteful” it was for the American taxpayer. Turns out he tried to secure stimulus funds for two Wisconsin companies, and succeeded for one of them. And it was the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp., no less, despite his promise to kill Energy Department subsidies for green jobs efforts.
He won’t have too much explaining to do about this. If anything, a line to the effect of “I believed the stimulus would be good for the state at first but I was wrong” is much deadlier than just “The stimulus was wrong.” The same could go for federal green jobs funding. Besides, any member of Congress who doesn’t try to get a piece of any federal pie for their district would be almost suspiciously principled.
STORY #3: Bonesaw is ready
Oh, boy: “The president, I’m told, is talking about Medicare today. We want this debate. We need this debate. And we will win this debate.” That’s what Ryan had to say to supporters at his alma mater, Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio). Unless the Obamans have mastered the numbers or have someone available who has, they would probably lose in a Medicare debate with Ryan if they were to hold it today, especially if a bunch of wonks were listening. He knows too much for their comfort.