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On the day that Paul Ryan was to give his acceptance speech for the nomination of Vice-President, Ryan knew he had to bring it. Not just because needed to excite the base. Nor was it because he needed to set the narrative in a way that combated the attacks he has already received since Mitt Romney selected him as his running mate. No, he needed to hit it out the park, because a day and half of the same message from different people had grown, if not tedious, certainly stale.
We Built It and We Can Do better may be the rallying cry, but it needed to be told in a fresh way something fierce. If there were any worries about Ryan’s ability to get the job done, they were unfounded.
Simply put, Ryan knocked the ball out of the park.
In a speech that interwove his personal story and beliefs with the plans of a Romney-Ryan ticket, Ryan effectively made the case for the plans and policies they are fighting to implement. Many have commented on Ryan’s likeability and personable manner. Both traits came through in both tone and demeanor. Stories about his family and calling his mother, “his role model” are flatly stock in trade items in politics, but there was an earnestness that permeated through Ryan. He is not just saying these things, they are true for him. This will go a long way for him in the campaign, and made the strong medicine he threw at Obama non offensive.
In a speech that had plenty of zingers in it, Ryan nonetheless never made the attacks personal. They were, in fact, not attacks, so much as critiques. What was different in his speech, in contrast to the attacks thus far from President Obama, is that Ryan focused on the results of the last three years. He zeroed in on facts, and figures, but personalized their consequences.
He made it personal as he talked about the GM factory in his hometown of Jamesville, Wisconsin, the people that he knew who used to work there, and the Obama administrations broken promise to keep it open. This was in contrast to the half a billion the President used in Solyndra.
Ryan is known as a policy guy. For him its about the numbers, the policy and the results that follow. Ryan, however, was able to explain, keep the speech flowing, serve red meat, and do it with in a humorous way. His best zinger perhaps being the vivid image he conjured with this line: “Americans in their 20′s should not have to move home with their parents house, living in their old rooms, looking up at fading Obama posters and waiting for life to begin.”
A comment meant to target younger voters, but still managed to convey an important message to adults as well. Its a tactic that he used more than once. Throw a funny zinger like, “The President has said he has not communicated enough. That is his job to tell a story. In the last four years we have not suffered from a lack of words from the White House. What we are missing is leadership in the white house.”
Never in the speech did it become about Obama personally or about ideology. Just the results and what needs to be done to get better results. This is why the speech was a home run. Not because he could get applause lines, or get a standing ovation from the people in attendance. They are all going vote for Romney and him anyway. No the brilliance was delivering a speech that moderates, independents, and apathetic voters can understand. The message came through because it was a truthful one delivered at partisan event that did not sound at all partisan. Not in tone. And that is what Romney will need from Ryan during the campaign.
Image Courtesy of PBS News Hour