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Melissa Griffin: Romney’s VP Pick Ryan Gets Everyone’s Attention

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) jokes with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) during an event announcing him as his running mate. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) jokes with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) during an event announcing him as his running mate. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Now that Mitt Romney has announced the Paul Ryan is his vice presidential pick, both parties are salivating. The move appeals to the Republican base who had been less-than-enthusiastic about their presidential choice until now.

The Democrats were going to have to work to associate Romney with Ryan’s fiscal ideas, and now they don’t have to. Romney had been pretty vague on his plans for the economy, so Ryan’s history of budget plans provides a more tangible target for people to love and hate.

Not that Romney himself is 100 percent committed to the plan. He has maintained that while Ryan’s plan is “marvelous,” as president he would be the captain of his own Starship (I Love) Enterprise.

And what is that plan? Ryan’s original idea was to turn Medicare into a voucher program whereby qualified persons would get a voucher for a set amount to spend on insurance in the private sector. Additional money needed for coverage would have to be paid by the recipient of the insurance. Later, he compromised and now says that people would have a choice as to whether they want paid care or the voucher. He also exempted people already on the program and those who will be for the next 10 years.

Ryan also was a driving force behind President George W. Bush’s 2005 proposal to privatize social security. Bush abandoned the idea when it was clearly a political nonstarter.

We’ll see how well all this goes over in swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania where plenty of voters rely on entitlement programs and Democrats will spend big to make sure they are sufficiently terrified.

David Axelrod, senior political advisor to President Obama, has compared the Republican excitement over Ryan to the fervor surrounding Sarah Palin in the last presidential election – intense but fleeting, owing to Palin’s lack of experience.

No doubt Ryan will be similarly criticized for having, er…”limited” foreign policy or private sector experience, but he’s got a real ideology that comes from studying politics and economics. He probably won’t fizzle as fast as Palin, and it’s worth noting that Ryan’s mentor and first boss on Capitol Hill was Jack Kemp – another fiscal firebrand whose VP nomination gave a huge boost to the Bob Dole campaign in 1996.

As with Kemp, look for Ryan to bring big energy to the convention and even dominate the ticket at times, as Kemp did with Dole. Whether that enthusiasm can sustain until Election Day is anyone’s guess, but historically, it’s rare for a vice presidential choice to make a big difference in presidential elections.

In the meantime, Sarah Palin took to Facebook to use the opportunity of Ryan’s announcement as the perfect time to unleash fury on…California? The Golden State has really become the Goblin State, with Republicans using our (admittedly imperfect) hamlet as a scary example of what happens when Democrats are in charge. Here’s an excerpt:

Obama’s America is today’s California – complete with $100 billion taxpayer funded bullet trains to nowhere; out of control environmental extremists who have destroyed family farms and left some of the most fertile farm land in America fallow in order to protect a three inch fish; permanent high unemployment; government policies hostile to small business job creators; crippling high taxes; an abysmal real estate market; bloated government that wastes taxpayer money; endless budget shortfalls due to massive unfunded liabilities; city after city declaring bankruptcy; and a state government run by, in the words of one Wall Street Journal writer, ‘a brothel of environmentalists, lawyers, public-sector unions and legislative bums.

Sheesh.

This after Mitt Romney recently compared California to Greece.

Even the money nerds at Standard & Poor’s understand we’re not Greece.

Welcome to the glendi, Mister Ryan.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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