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Local Republicans praise Ryan pick
Balance, expertise are cited
Ninth District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith speaks at the local Republican Party picnic and headquarters opening on Saturday. (Bulletin photo)
Sunday, August 12, 2012
By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan creates a balance of financial and business expertise on the ticket with presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
That was the sentiment of several Republicans interviewed at the Martinsville Republican Committee’s 25th annual picnic Saturday.
“It was a bold choice,” said 9th District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, of Romney’s selection of Ryan, announced earlier Saturday, to be his vice presidential running mate in the Nov. 6 election.
By picking Ryan, Romney showed he will not be a “status quo president,” Griffith said, but rather one who will attempt to solve the nation’s problems, including high unemployment and the debt.
Ryan may be best known nationwide for crafting the House Republican budget. Several people interviewed at the picnic and grand opening of the Martinsville/Henry County joint Republican headquarters at 2820 Greensboro Road said Ryan knows more about the federal budget than anyone.
Henry County GOP Chairman W.C. Fowlkes said some of that budget plan has been misrepresented, especially on the so-called “throw grandma off the cliff” proposals on Medicare.
But now that budget will get serious consideration, Fowlkes said.
“No one understands the budget better than Ryan,” Griffith said.
For example, he pointed to the Ryan-Wyden plan, crafted by Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and unveiled in December 2011. It would give people five options for Medicare coverage, Griffith said.
The cheapest option would be a default, leaving Medicare coverage as it is now, Griffith said. People with resources could buy more expensive and extensive coverage. For people without the resources, the government would pay for an insurance plan based on the person’s income and medical condition, Griffith said.
The money coming into the system would strengthen it, he added.
“It would give choices,” Griffith said. Now, the system is “one size fits all.”
“If we don’t do things now, there will be a collapse in system,” Griffith said, adding that he has seen projections that it could happen from 2016 to 2023 for Medicare. “Social Security would be further out.”
“It’s not that far off if we don’t take actions to change it” for people under 55, he said, adding that there should be no changes for those 55 and older.
He called Ryan “an idea man, a fixer, a doer,” who is smart, and not just on budget matters.
His selection for the vice presidential spot on the ticket will shift the campaign conversation to the budget, which is tied to the nation’s prosperity, Griffith said.
Griffith added that no one will know whether the selection of Ryan was the right choice politically until the November election. But Romney said it was the right choice for the country, and “politics be damned,” Griffith said.
Fowlkes and several others said Ryan will compliment Romney. They would make decisions jointly, Fowlkes said, while Romney will be out front as the manager and Ryan will be working to implement cuts and other steps, Fowlkes said.
Del. Don Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County, praised the choice of Ryan, saying he is “the only one with a plan to turn the tide” on spending.
“You can’t make everyone happy,” and change cannot happen overnight, but with the nation’s excessive debt and baby boomers entering the Social Security and Medicare systems, “drastic decisions” must be made, Merricks said.
Gov. Bob McDonnell had been considered by Romney for the VP spot, and Merricks said he “would have been a good choice ... they have a lot of the same ideas.”
But Romney is a former governor and “he needed somebody on the inside” in Washington, D.C., Merricks added.
State Sen. Mark Obenshain, who is running for the Republican nomination for attorney general in 2013, was present at the picnic. He said the choice of Ryan helps create a “clear choice” between the Republican and Democratic tickets.
He added that Ryan has guts and stands up for what he believes. “That speaks volumes about his character,” Obenshain said.
Obenshain, of the 26th District which includes Harrisonburg, was one of three attorney general hopefuls at Saturday’s event. The others were Del. Rob Bell of Charlottesville and John Frey, the Fairfax Circuit Court clerk.
In addition, Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart, who is seeking to be the GOP candidate for a lieutenant governor in 2013, was present.
Each addressed the more than 100 people at the picnic, urging them to support and work for the Romney-Ryan ticket as well as Griffith, incumbent 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt of Chatham and former senator and governor George Allen.
Also urging those present to rally around the Republican candidates were state Sen. Bill Stanley and Del. Charles Poindexter, both Glade Hill Republicans.
Several of the speakers reminded the crowd that in recent years local Republicans ousted four Democratic legislators — state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, Del. Ward Armstrong, 9th District congressman Rick Boucher and 5th District congressman Tom Perriello.
Now, they must work to elect Romney and the other Republicans to repeal Obamacare, limit regulations that are stifling businesses and growth, and foster economic improvements, among other things, the speakers said.
Griffith added that he believes it will take 15 to 20 years to turn the economy around if Republicans do not gain control of Washington in November. If they do not, “we will recover, but not in the short term,” he added.