Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 | 2 a.m.
On the opening day of their national convention, Republicans genuflected before the private sector, praising the ingenuity and leadership skills of the country’s business men and women — the skills Republicans believe make Mitt Romney presidential material.
But Wednesday, they turned to a man who has spent almost his entire career in Washington, aiming to be the one to dismantle the policies of President Barack Obama’s administration and replace them with conservative principles aimed at fixing the economy.
For many Republicans, it isn’t difficult for them to reconcile their general antipathy for so-called “career politicians” with their enthusiastic support of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Ryan is the man with the intellectual chops and economic policy heft to complement Romney’s business background, they say.
“Mitt Romney is the businessman who can do everything that needs to be done,” said Wes Rice, a delegate from Douglas County. “Paul Ryan is someone who is the financial expert who’s needed to undo what’s been done. He’s an idea guy. He’s a good conservative.
“Some might view Mitt Romney as middle of the road, and Paul Ryan can energize the conservative base.”
The fact that Ryan has been in Congress since age 28 also gives him the insider status to help Romney push his agenda, Rice argued.
“He needs someone who’s been in the backroom, who knows where the deals are made, who knows Capitol Hill,” Rice said.
Indeed, where Romney’s broad policy platforms have yet to be fleshed out in significant detail, Ryan’s proposals — particularly his budget plan — have already been marked up as legislation that’s been vetted by the Congressional Budget Office.
In his speech to the Republican National Convention, Ryan sought not only to demonstrate his policy adroitness, but to put it up as an alternative to what he described as Obama’s empty rhetoric.
“The present administration has made its choices,” Ryan said. “And Mitt Romney and I have made ours: Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation’s economic problems.
“And I’m going to level with you: We don’t have that much time. But if we are serious, and smart, and we lead, we can do this.”
But Ryan’s appeal to Republicans goes beyond his policy bona fides, according to delegates in Tampa.
Nevada delegate Kim Bacchus, who grew up in Wisconsin, was effusive in her praise of Ryan.
“Paul Ryan is the salt of the earth,” she said. “He was taught the basics of hard work, that you have to earn your way through everything. In Wisconsin, that’s how I grew up. He knows you work hard enough, you keep your nose clean, you go to church, you give generously to your community and you will succeed.
“He’s an amazing example of the future of the Republican Party.”
And if the brains, the conservative cred and the midwestern upbringing aren’t enough, Ryan’s got one more thing going for him.
At least as far as Serena Goldstock of Las Vegas is concerned: “He’s hot as heck in person.”