Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Mitt Romney named Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate over the weekend and immediately changed the discussion of the Presidential race. Ryan is known for his proposed budget plan that addresses entitlement programs as an important way to balance the federal budget, and for making many foes with that same plan.

While Ryan’s plan made him a rising star within the GOP and a target of criticism from Democrats, it remains the only plan that addresses difficult cuts in spending across the board within the federal budget.

Within both the Republican and Democratic bases in Colorado, Ryan will have his predicted fans and detractors. However, how will the all important independent voters in Colorado react to what Paul Ryan brings to the GOP ticket?

First, I believe Ryan’s appearance on the ticket will help to make the economy and the federal budget deficit to the forefront of the campaign. That may not be good news for the Obama camp because they have seen a direct advantage over Romney on other issues. Focusing on the economy and the blooming federal deficit is not where the Obama campaign wants to fight this fight.

Secondly, Ryan is not known to be a flashy personality like the last GOP vice presidential candidate. His personality is not going to win over voters by itself. The main votes he can influence will be people who describe themselves as “fiscal conservatives.” However, his pedigree on economic issues comes with a fairly strong social conservative pedigree as well.

Independent voters who are not focused on issues, but rather focused on how they feel about a candidate are not going to see Ryan as a warm and cozy moderate.

That brings us to the third way Ryan will affect the ticket and the race here in Colorado. If we know Ryan’s advantage is on economic issues and we also know that he is a strong social conservative, expect the ads attacking Romney and Ryan to focus on conservative issues with scary overtones.

The ads that we have seen already from the Obama campaign, claiming that a Romney presidency would be dangerous to women will only increase now that the GOP ticket is even more conservative.

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign should begin to hit the economy and the budget with a Gallagher sized mallet on the Colorado airwaves. In a state like Colorado, where voters are faced with budget issues like TABOR and Amendment 23 on a regular basis, those ads may play well.

Paul Ryan is still only a vice presidential candidate. I don’t want to overstate the importance of the second half of the ticket.

But the fact remains that his arrival to the campaign will change the way both camps address the next few weeks as they try to attract more Colorado voters.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.


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