Mitt Romney may hope that picking Paul Ryan as his running mate will help him shore up the Republican base, but many of Romney’s fellow Republicans in competitive elections aren’t quite as happy to see Ryan’s name on the November ballot.
Republicans in tight congressional races are moving to distance themselves from Ryan and the piece of legislation for which he is best known, his extreme “Path to Prosperity” budget, in hopes that they can win over swing voters by criticizing the Medicare-ending plan.
Here are just some of the candidates eschewing the Ryan budget:
Richard Tisei – In his district outside of Boston, Tisei won’t win on a hardline Republicans budget plan, so Tisei has tried to avoid the issue of the Ryan budget altogether. “I just don’t think it’s going to be an issue in this race,” he told Politico.
George Allen – Virginia’s senate race is Allen’s best hope to get back into politics after his 2006 loss, and he’s hoping to be able to ally himself with the Romney-Ryan ticket without having to embrace Ryan’s proposed Medicare cuts. At a rally on Thursday, when Allen was asked about supporting the Ryan plan, he told reporter, “I think your assertion’s incorrect,” and “I haven’t had a chance to look at their latest permutation from it.”
Denny Rehberg – Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) is running a competitive race for the Senate, and while he embraced Romney’s pick of Ryan, he simultaneously tried to signal to voters that Ryan and he had policy disagreements, writing in a release shortly after the announcement, there are “few occasions where” the two disagreed.
Chris Collins – Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul’s (D-NY) competitor refused to even discuss the Ryan budget with reporters over the weekend, fleeing from the quandary of the Ryan budget and its effects on Medicare. “I’m not going to get into a discussion now about a budget that may be passed next year with a new president and new Congress,” Collins told the Buffalo News, “I’m not going to go back and relive any proposal in the past because they are in the past.”
Brendan Doherty – The Rhode Island House candidate, Brendan Doherty, told Slate reporter Dave Weigel that he does not support the part of the Ryan budged that is “privatizing Medicare.”
Linda McMahon – McMahon’s opponent goaded the Connecticut senatorial candidate into distancing herself from the Ryan budget, releasing a statement asking whether McMahon would support Ryan’s Medicare cuts. In response, a McMahon spokesperson gave National Journal perhaps the most firm statement of opposition from a Republican candidate. “Linda McMahon will never support a budget that cuts Medicare,” he said.
As evidenced by this strategy video that instructs Republicans on how to cope with voters’ negative associations with the Ryan budget, this is a serious — and losing — issue for most Republicans. Their best hope is to quickly pivot the conversation away from Medicare, or they risk losing senior voters.
Maggie Brooks, who is running for the House in New York, doubled down on her disapproval of Ryan’s Medicare plan Monday, saying “It has always been my position that I do not support the Ryan budget and its proposals regarding Medicare. However, I applaud Governor Romney’s choice as Congressman Ryan understands the dire need for fiscal reform, reducing our immense national debt, and controlling unsustainable levels of federal spending.”