The Magazine

Two More Months

It’s a dead heat between the aggressive liberal and the decisive manager.

Sep 17, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 01 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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“I don’t see these as mutually exclusive paths or strategies,” Ryan said. “I’m talking about that choice—just look at my speech in Colorado Springs today. My convention speech was very philosophically clear when it comes to the choice between governing philosophies. And we also tried to highlight the president’s failed record. It’s both—running on Obama’s failures, but also making clear that we have an affirming choice of better ideas, better solutions of the American idea and what makes it tick.”

So there’s been no reversion to the more cautious strategy?

“No, I think what we’re trying to do is highlight the fact that this isn’t working and, number two, show—‘here’s what we’re offering.’ You want to win an election by acclaim, by affirmation. We want to earn this victory so that we have a mandate to fix this mess.”

Ryan continued: “The worst thing that could happen is for Barack Obama to get reelected. The second worst thing is that we win by default without a clear mandate of how to fix this mess. We want the mandate so that people know what they’re getting when they vote for us. That’s what worked in Wisconsin—I think we’ve just proven that—and we think that’s what people are hungry for. They want leaders of conviction, of clarity—and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. So you have to first say, this guy isn’t working, it’s failing, look at the kind of campaign he’s running—and here’s what we’re saying, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s who we are, here’s what we believe, and if you vote for us this is what we’ll do. And that’s the kind of election we want to earn. It’s a two-step thought process.”

Still, Ryan strongly rejected the view of some Republicans and many in the conventional-wisdom caucus that the fate of the campaign is closely tied to the monthly jobs reports between now and November 6.

“I don’t think one statistic popping up on a Friday during this campaign is going to be monumental,” said Ryan, the day before yet another rotten jobs report came out. “People in their gut know that we’re on the wrong track in this country. They know that the president is going hard left. This is not a Bill Clinton Democrat, and I think people know that. So I just don’t think some statistic that comes out on any given day is going to be the primary motivator of this campaign. I think the die is cast, the trajectory is set, and the choice of the two futures is clear. We just have to make it even more clear, and we have to go to the country and ask them for permission to fix this mess.”

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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