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National Issues

Ryan might energize conservatives, but could leave voters disappointed
VP candidate's view on Medicare could alienate seniors

Karen Kasler

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney heads to Ohio Tuesday for the last leg of his four-day bus tour – which started in Virginia with the introduction of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Many people in Ohio thought Romney might select U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Cincinnati, who’s been campaigning extensively for Romney for months.

David Cohen is a professor of political science at the Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron. Cohen says while most people in the Republican Party in Ohio might not admit it, the fact that Portman isn’t number two on the ticket is a bit of a letdown.

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"Well I mean I think the republican establishment certainly is going to be a little bit disappointed in Ohio. Certainly Rob Portman himself. Let’s not forget that in 2008, he was also one of the people that really made it into the first year of vice presidential picks. So this is the second time he’s been left at the altar."

But Cohen thinks Ryan will energize conservative voters in Ohio, especially younger ones. However, Cohen says Ryan’s hard-right stance could turn off independent voters, and Ryan’s controversial budget might cost him votes with seniors, because of the big changes it makes in Medicare.

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"I think it’s going to hurt him with independents in Ohio, and I think especially with seniors. I think you’re going to see the Obama campaign really go after Ryan and the Ryan budget and what the implications are for Medicare."

Ryan’s budget would allow Medicare, the health insurance program for senior citizens, to be run largely by private insurers starting in 2023. Democrats have seized on that as an early rallying point in their criticisms of Ryan as Romney’s VP selection. President Obama won Ohio in 2008 – and no Republican has won the White House without taking Ohio.

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