Romney and co. launched an Ohio bus tour Monday with emphasized focus on his ticket, instead of just the presidential candidate himself. The tour marks the first time in about a month that he and Ryan have publicly appeared together.
After several polls released early this week showed Obama with a strong lead in the swing state—the Washington Post has Obama ahead by eight points in Ohio—it seems Romney wants to put the media’s eyes on Ryan. Whatever it takes for attention to be far, far away from the 47% or questions about why airplane windows don’t open… At a rally in Vandalia, OH Tuesday when supporters started chanting “Romney! Romney!” he encouraged them to chant, “Romney-Ryan! Romney-Ryan!” instead. And an aide noted that the two will be campaigning more together in the coming weeks, which is unusual. This close to the election, it is typical for a team to split to cover more ground and hit more campaign stops.
Although it is not absolutely necessary for Romney to win Ohio, which has 18 electoral votes, no Republican has ever lost the state and won the election.
It’s understandable why Romney would want to put his VP pick in the spotlight, and not only based on his own recent oratorical blunders. Responses to Ryan’s speeches over the past few weeks have been favorable, and his arguments seem to be resonating with likely Republican voters, according to the New York Times.
But Romney’s desire for the two to appear to be a well-oiled, unified machine seems to be coming at the same time as some internal dissolution. On Sunday, former political director of the Iowa Republican Party Craig Robinson told the New York Times that although Ryan may be helping Romney’s image, the reverse is certainly not true.
“I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,” Robinson said.
Ryan appeared to be trying to do just that over the weekend. Ryan is asking for more town hall meetings instead of rallies, which have been the mainstay of the Republican campaign. He had one on Saturday at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. There, he deviated from Romney campaign norms even more—and, well, from all campaign norms. Instead of delivering a speech like usual and trying to enthuse the crowd, he pulled up a PowerPoint presentation on the U.S. debt. Pie charts and color-coded graphs aren’t the most radical (or interesting) things ever, but hey, we all rebel in our own ways.
Read a Politico columnist’s take on the PowerPoints here—he’s funnier than I am.
“I’m basically asserting my own preferences now, and I like it,” Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I spent a good bit of time doing rallies and events, and I got to realizing, that you know what, I want to do more town hall meetings… It’s more interactive.”
I don’t know how interactive PowerPoint presentations can really be, but I’ll take his word for it. I just wonder, what’s next? If Ryan’s pulling out all the teacher stops, does that mean we can have town hall snack time, too? Maybe even nap time? But let’s not get too crazy.
Meanwhile, Romney political director Rich Beeson said the campaign has nothing to worry about from the bad poll numbers in Ohio. He prefers to look at the electoral map “holistically,” he said.