The Wisconsin congressional race, Romney’s outsourcing scandal, and the power of Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan just released a new ad for his congressional campaign for reelection as a representative for Wisconsin, titled “Right Solutions.” In the ad, Ryan dons blues jeans and a pair of safety glasses as he talks to workers in a factory.  “What can be done to create good jobs?” one of them asks earnestly. “First, we need to end the growing government control over the economy, and when we put higher tax rates on American job creators than our foreign competitors do, we push jobs overseas,” Romney patiently explains. “We need to fix that and make our tax code fair, simple, and more competitive. We should balance the budget and eliminate ridiculous regulations that cost you money. With the right solutions, we can get this economy growing.” The ad is very clearly scripted and lacks the production quality of Romney’s ads, but shares the underlying emphasis of his campaign: economy, economy, economy. Ryan attempts to connect with the working class while aligning with values of Romney’s economic policies as he lays out plain and simple for the workers the “consequences” of high corporate taxes and government regulations and calls for a more limited government role in economy.

This criticism of sending jobs overseas may ring a bell of hypocrisy for those who remember the spotlight on Romney in June when the Washington Post released a story reporting on how Bain Capital, the investment firm that he co-founded, invested in a series of firms that worked to outsource American jobs to countries like China and India. Romney was quick challenge the report, claiming that these investments were made in 1999 after he had left the company, and demanding that the Washington Post retract the story. They stood by the report, and further investigations raised questions about whether or not he had even left the company in 1999, while showing that Romney was in fact the sole investor in a Chinese manufacturing company that explicitly identified outsourcing as the key to their success.

The dispute over these claims was never officially settled, but it undoubtedly made Romney look like an idiot after he had said earlier this year on the campaign trail, “We will not let China continue to steal jobs from the United States of America.”

The other thing worth noting is why Ryan is spending so much time, energy, and money on the House Race at all. Ryan is running for representation of Wisconsin’s first congressional district, a position he has held for seven consecutive terms and won with 68% of the vote in the 2010 election. Yet Paul Ryan’s supporters are in full steam, canvassing, putting up signs everywhere, and holding campaign events, and his House campaign is buying $2 million worth of TV ads in Milwaukee and Madison this fall. So why is Paul Ryan so invested in a congressional race without much competition? Notice that in the ad, Ryan doesn’t clarify that it’s for the House Race until the disclosure statement at the end. With Ryan’s popularity so important to Romney’s campaign that many seem to wish the vice presidential candidate was running for office himself, boosting support for Ryan, even if it is for a different race, ultimately serves the presidential campaign. Plus, because Ryan and Romney have mostly the same policies and ideals, they can push their platform while escaping regulations on spending and a limit on the number of political ads local stations typically have for each candidate.

This is particularly important in a swing state like Wisconsin, which went to Obama over McCain in the 2008 election by a vote of 57% to 41%. Kevin Seifert, Ryan’s campaign manager, insists the two are completely independent, with little communication, and that any influence the House race has on the presidential campaign is unintentional. I say that’s BULLSHIT. What this really is is a small stroke of political genius. While the Paul Ryan-mania continues, Wisconsin’s 10 votes in the electoral college will unmistakably go to Romney in November.

Rachel Stober

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About rowlanda12

This is a blog about the 2012 presidential election. Content is generated by students in Professor Heldman's Politics 101 class. She does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here.
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