So it wasn’t Sen. Kelly Ayotte after all.
Political analysts in New Hampshire hadn’t necessarily expected Mitt Romney to pick the Granite State’s junior senator for his running mate, despite consistent speculation during the past few months. But for a while there at least, it seemed like Ayotte was in the thick of things.
Analysts, such as Dean Spiliotes, weren’t surprised Romney considered Ayotte, but he figured the inevitable, though perhaps unfair, comparisons to Sarah Palin would be too big a detriment to Ayotte’s case.
Many names were mentioned: Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and more recently Gen. David Petraeus, to name a few.
The pick, Congressman Paul Ryan, is probably the kind of choice New Hampshire Republicans would support, particularly with his tough fiscal credentials. He comes with baggage too, though, as Ryan’s controversial budget proposal last year would have fundamentally changed Medicare.
Ayotte had appeal as a fresh face on the national scene. Her background as attorney general helped, but Spiliotes had figured Romney wouldn’t take any chances.
“Governor Romney has made a fantastic choice in selecting Paul Ryan to be our nominee for Vice President,” Ayotte said in a statement. “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will put America back on a path to prosperity by reforming government, enacting real deficit reduction, and overhauling the tax code to spur economic growth. America needs a Romney-Ryan administration to get our fiscal house in order and put Americans back to work.”
With Ryan, the ticket gets a younger candidate to provide a contrast to Romney, who has been around a while. The hope is probably that Ryan can inject some energy into the campaign. Picking Ryan would also seem to keep the focus squarely on the economy and fiscal issues — Romney’s strength.
Ayotte, Ryan and Rubio fall into the same category of younger, energetic Republican lawmakers, but Ryan and Rubio had larger national profiles than Ayotte. Still, Ayotte’s consideration only helps her build her profile. She developed a rapport with Romney, and who knows, if he wins the presidency, maybe Ayotte gets a nice post in his administration.
Ammo for Democrats
Ryan’s budget proposal is something the campaign is going to have to figure out how to deal with, because Democrats are likely to be relentless in framing it a certain way. This is from Ray Buckley, chairman of the state Democratic Party:
“Mitt Romney has picked a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to putting tax breaks for the wealthiest before middle-class families. The radical Ryan budget plan — supported by Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta — would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system and adding thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors, in order to pay for new tax cuts for the richest Americans.”
And while Ryan, at 42, is young and a budget expert, he isn’t a new lawmaker in Washington. He’s been a representative in Wisconsin for 14 years and is in his seventh term, which means he was in office and voting while President George Bush was in office, something Obama’s campaign was only too quick to point out.
“As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy,” said Jim Messina, Obama for America campaign manager, in a statement. “Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes.”
It’s unclear how effective tying Ryan to Bush will be, but it at least points out that Ryan has a history. Someone like Ayotte, on the other hand, wouldn’t have had that legislative history.
For New Hampshire
It certainly would have made New Hampshire a central player in the presidential race if Ayotte had been the pick, but the Granite State is already a big player.
The president was slated to visit again this coming weekend. The first lady visited earlier this month. Romney visits regularly and is seen by many as a native son of sorts, considering his lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee and that he kicked off both his general election campaign and his primary campaign in New Hampshire. Surrogates for both candidates are also frequenting New Hampshire.
Even with just four electoral votes, New Hampshire is very much in the mix. Romney’s going with Ryan doesn’t change that.
UL picks Lamontagne
It might have been lost in the flux a little bit with Romney choosing his running mate, but the Union Leader recently chose to endorse Ovide Lamontagne for governor.
Lamontagne is running against Kevin Smith in the GOP primary. Maggie Hassan, Jackie Cilley and Bill Kennedy are vying for the Democratic nomination.
Union Leader Publisher Joseph McQuaid wrote the front-page editorial in support of Lamontagne.
“Anyone can talk. Lamontagne has walked,” McQuaid wrote. “He has listened, learned, and labored in the private sector and in the unpaid, tireless service of his state and community. From chairing the state board of education to serving Saint Mary’s Bank (the nation’s first credit union), Catholic Charities, and Easter Seals and heading the commerce division of his law firm, Lamontagne has built a proud New Hampshire record.”