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Is Ryan/West a Can't-Miss Presidential Bet for the GOP?

By Johnny Simpson
Posted Apr 5, 2011 in Politics
Two very prominent Republican Congressmen, Representatives Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Allen West of Florida, have been making big news of late that has cheered conservatives greatly. How would they fare in a presidential run? Many factors seem to favor them. In recent polling at the popular conservative Hot Air blog, Representative Allen West of Florida polled far ahead of a very big name pack of well-known Republicans in a VP race. Rep. West, a freshman Congressman representing Florida's 22nd district, was already well-known prior to his election. Some might say infamous.
A former US Army Colonel who served from 1983 until his retirement in 2004, Col. West was charged in November 2003 with violations of Articles 128 and 134 of the UCMJ for firing a pistol near a suspected insurgent's head in order to obtain intelligence about a planned attack on his command in Taji, Iraq. Col. West was ultimately penalized a fine of $5000 and retired with full benefits the next year. Asked during his Article 15 hearing if he would have acted differently, Col. West answered, "If it's about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can." Col. West's no-nonsense, no-BS approach endeared him to the electorate in Florida's 22nd District. He won the race handily with a 9% margin of victory over incumbent Democrat Rep. Ron Klein.
It is also notable that now-Rep. West, a black man, won in a district with an 87% white demographic and became the first black Republican representative from Florida since a former slave served two terms in the 1870s. Mr. West has also made big news of late among conservatives with an electrifying speech at CPAC in February, and for a total takedown of CAIR Executive Director Nezar Hamze at a recent Florida town hall meeting. When Mr. Hamze asked Rep West, "Where in the Koran does it say for Muslims to attack America or Americans?" Rep. West totally schooled Mr. Hamze on Islamic history spanning centuries, as well as from his tour of duty in Iraq. He closed with, "Don't try to blow sunshine up my butt!"
Rep. West is also gaining a similar no-holds-barred reputation in Congress. He eagerly joined the Congressional Black Caucus, where he has become a most thorny presence in the liberal Democrat-dominated CBC. More recently Paul Ryan, a five-term Wisconsin Representative, has been making a big splash in the news. He is now proposing a reduction in the federal deficit of $6,000,000,000,000 over the next ten years. Seventeen Democratic governors have already launched a pre-emptive strike against his Medicare reform proposals, but Ryan is determined to pursue his Path to Prosperity. He will be unveiling that plan in great detail later today. When questioned about expected fierce liberal Democrat resistance to his proposed overhauls of America's behemoth entitlement systems, Rep. Ryan said the following:
“We are giving them a political weapon to go against us,” he (Ryan) said. “But they will have to lie and demagogue to make it a weapon…Shame on them if they do that.”
You can watch a recent extended interview of Rep. Ryan by FOX News' Chris Wallace on Ryan's proposals in this video from FOX News Sunday. In a new Powerline blog oped by Steven Hayward titled Paul Ryan for President, Mr. Hayward brings up a most salient point as regards President Obama. In the following linked video of the health care town hall liberal Democrats staged in January of last year, Mr. Hayward points out that during Rep. Ryan's complete financial dissection of President Obama's proposed health care plan, the President looked very uncomfortable. It is also notable that the President has never placed a call to Rep. Ryan on any issue since. At present, there seems to be no way a Ryan/West presidential bid could be a downer for Republicans. All that said, and despite his present low polling, President Obama remains both a formidable and most charismatic persona who can be fast on his feet in a head-on debate. Hillary Clinton found that fact out the hard way during her 2008 run.
President Obama is also a fundraising juggernaut, and is expected to raise a billion dollars in his repeat run. Yet facts can be relentless things, and all the charm in the world can't counter them when effectively presented in debate. President Obama has been harshly criticized for a great many of his policies, most particularly ObamaCare, which remains highly unpopular in recent polling. The massive waiver issues, which now exceed 1000 and favor mostly unions and other Obama-supporting entities, has not helped his cause. The American left has also been greatly disillusioned with his presidency, and recently tried to recruit Rep. Dennis Kucinich to oppose him in the primaries. Rep. Kucinich declined, but the search continues.
As a conservative myself, I can see nothing but positives. Rep. Ryan has a formidable resume and eloquence on domestic policy that would prove most challenging to President Obama in debate, and Rep. West brings a no-nonsense real world approach to foreign policy from the battlefields of Iraq and twenty years of military service, much of it at the command level. He would also be a very formidable opponent should he face VP Joe Biden, ever gaffe-prone, in a head-to-head debate. Should they win such a race, those very same qualities, as well as their considerable experience in matters foreign and domestic, would aid them greatly in carrying out their duties with cool and poise in the endless political cyclone that is the White House.
There are of course many other GOP candidates who poll better as of now than Rep. Ryan, who wasn't even included in many recent polls. Sarah Palin won the most recent poll at Hot Air and remains extremely popular, yet she also remains a very polarizing public figure. Mitt Romney carries heavy baggage regarding his RomneyCare legislation in Massachusetts, and many voters are uncomfortable with his Mormon religion. Others like Mike Huckabee have their problems too, and Newt Gingrich's candidacy is a non-starter for many. Larger point being, both Reps. Ryan and West would bring considerable conservative firepower to a presidential run, as well as fresh faces and approaches that may appeal greatly to a restless public that is tiring of endless government spending, debt, mass unemployment and war.
There are many factors and potential developments, both at home and abroad, that could radically alter the prospects of a Ryan/West run and improve President Obama's chances of re-election. But should President Obama be stuck in the same political quagmires he finds himself in today, he may just find himself trailing at the finish line no matter how many dollars he spends or ads he places. Also, with Rep. West as a VP candidate, the oft-played liberal Democrat race card would never fly and may even backfire badly. This is all pure speculation, as neither representative has expressed interest as of yet. But that is what much political opinion is about: the possibilities. As an American conservative libertarian I see it as perhaps the Republicans' last best hope to succeed Obama and radically change the country's direction, something most Americans today believe needs to happen by a 68/25 margin.
In that regard, the change Obama has wrought seems not to be what Americans hoped for. Ergo, the real question for next November will be an old familiar one: are we better off than we were in 2008? That is the big question Obama's re-election or ousting will hinge on. But I sure would love to see Ryan debate Obama on domestic policy. And a VP debate between West and Biden might even beat out the Stockdale and Quayle fiascos. Hope Springs Eternal.