ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It was good fortune, I think, to plan a reporting trip in New England at the same time Paul Ryan became the GOP’s veep nominee. Yesterday I talked to a Republican in Rhode Island who has a decent chance of taking a Democratic seat, and rejects the Ryan budget’s Medicare reforms. Earlier in the week I talked to Sean Bielat, who’s running against Joe Kennedy III for the seat being vacated against Barney Frank. He said he would support Ryan’s plan.
“Choosing Ryan clearly puts the focus on economic and fiscal issues,” said Bielat. “If he had picked somebody else, it wouldn’t have put as clear a focus and as clear a contrast with Obama on those issues. Paul Ryan – many disagree with his plan. I always say to them: He has one. What’s yours? And there’s seldom an answer.”
Bielat viewed the choice as a potentially teachable moment. “Even if you lose an election,” he said, “there’s some value that comes out of campaigning, if you do things right. Even if, God forbid, Romney and Ryan were to lose, at least for a couple months, there was a spotlight on this pivotal issue of entitlement reform and fiscal discipline. And something will come as a result of that. Ryan, if he comes back to Congress, will have a little more influence, will push the ball a little bit further.”
Bielat is bolder than some blue-state Republicans. Yesterday, the Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson caught up with Sen Scott Brown at a charity basketball game* and noticed that Brown “was quick to point out that he voted twice to block consideration of Ryan’s budget in the Senate.”
*I was also at the game – more to come! – but didn’t talk to the candidate. Brown’s communications staff had the candidate concentrate on local press and on two national outlets writing much longer pieces on the campaign. It happens.