DES MOINES — Paul Ryan’s ideas reached their sell-by date in 2011, as tens of millions of Americans recognized that his proposals would permanently damage and ultimate destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But as the year came to a close and his rancid schemes were starting to putrefy, Ryan suddenly found a new buyer: Mitt Romney.
The Republican presidential contender is so desperate to sell himself as the “conservative leader” he never was that Romney’s “closing argument” appeal to Iowa caucus goers features quotes from columnist Ann Coulter.
Those Romney radio ads, which are more ubiquitous in Iowa than Geico gecko insurance commercials, tout the former governor of Massachusetts as a “conservative businessman” with a “conservative plan.” They compare him with Ronald Reagan. They feature Coulter quotes.
But the centerpiece of Romney’s advertising in Iowa (and New Hampshire) is an attempt to associate the candidate’s economic agenda with House Budget Committee chairman Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future.”
Never mind that Ryan has scrupulously avoided endorsing Romney, or any other GOP contender. Never mind that there are still some Republican insiders who would like to see Ryan enter the presidential contest.
Romney’s claiming Ryan stamp of approval.
“Congressman Paul Ryan praised Romney’s plan, saying: ‘This is getting us toward a prosperity agenda that will allow the private-sector to grow,’ ” declares the the Romney pitch to Iowans.
That’s no casual reference to Ryan.
Romney, who once resisted endorsing Ryan’s plan, has for several weeks now been using the Wisconsin congressman as a lifesaver to prevent his campaign from been swept away by a conservative wave.
One of the first salvos in Romney’s attack on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was a television ad that attacked Gingrich for briefly rejecting Ryan’s plan as “right-wing social engineering.”
The ad closes with Ryan discussing Gingrich’s criticism, telling right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham: “With allies like that, who needs the left?”
“As political attack ads go, [Romney’s] ‘With Friends Like Newt’ ad is about as nasty as it gets on the Republican side,” observes the Mediaite website. “To the outsider, it might not seem that way (normal people hated Ryan’s budget, too), but the level of worship heaped on the Ryan budget by conservatives has that plan replacing the gift of frankincense in holiday manger scenes across the country. Romney’s campaign pounds Gingrich for the full minute on his comments about the Ryan plan, complete with sinister music and grainy monochrome visuals. By the end, you fully expect Gingrich’s eyes to begin to glow Demon-sheep red.”