Democrats in Congress and liberal activist groups piled on, denouncing Ryan and sending out frantic fundraising pitches that played off fears of a GOP administration to solicit donations in hopes of matching the Republican cash grab in the wake of the announcement.
Beneath the fierce response was a sense of delight among Democrats that they got the vice presidential candidate they wanted in Ryan, a staunch fiscal conservative. For months, the Obama campaign has been trying to tie Romney to Ryan’s Republican House budget proposal, which the president in April called “social Darwinism” that would pit the poor against the wealthy.
Democrats believe Ryan’s ideological views will turn off moderate voters and drive liberals to the polls, especially in Florida, a critical swing state where Obama, in two appearances last month, vilified the congressman’s proposal to partially privatize Medicare. In this way, Democrats say, Ryan provides a natural foil for the president, who has framed the election as a choice between sharply contrasting visions that could fundamentally reshape the nation.
In a statement, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said that Romney has “chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy.”
Obama did not respond to questions shouted by reporters as he left the White House on Saturday afternoon for a trip to Chicago, where he is to attend four fundraising events Sunday. The president’s campaign said that Vice President Biden called Ryan to welcome him to the race, saying he “looked forward to engaging him on the clear choice voters face this November.” The two are scheduled to debate Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky.
Yet the Obama campaign’s rapid response showed it was well-prepared for Ryan. The president’s operatives posted a Web video denouncing Ryan as the “mastermind behind the extreme GOP budget plan,” and they added a new page to the campaign’s Web site mocking the Romney-Ryan partnership as the “Go Back Team,” riffing off the Romney campaign’s labeling of the ticket as “America’s Comeback Team.”
In a fundraising e-mail, Messina wrote: “Our job is to make sure Americans know the truth about what Romney’s choice says about him as a candidate and leader.”
The president’s Democratic allies echoed the campaign’s criticism of Ryan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Romney’s choice “demonstrates that catering to the tea party and the far right is more important to him that standing up for the middle class.”