Although they differed as to their reasons, Republican and Democratic visitors to the Missouri State Fair on Monday agreed: Paul Ryan was a good choice to round out the Mitt Romney ticket in the 2012 presidential election.
Ryan, a seven-term Republican congressman from Wisconsin and chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee, was announced with fanfare on Saturday aboard the USS Wisconsin in Virginia.
Fred Henke, a St. Charles Pachyderm Club volunteer working the Missouri Republican Party booth at the fair, said Romney’s pick had generated “a lot of enthusiasm” among visitors to the tent on Monday.
A Wisconsin transplant who moved to Missouri in 1979, Henke said people are still finding out details about the prospective vice president, but noted the tent ran out of Romney campaign literature on Sunday and volunteers are anxiously waiting for the “Romney & Ryan” campaign material to be printed.
“People don’t necessarily have a clear idea who he is yet, but we don’t always know a lot about the representatives from other states,” Henke said. “My relatives and contacts in Wisconsin like Ryan because he is a fiscal guy who speaks plain English finance.”
Henke said people remain concerned about the economy and seniors have begun asking questions about potential cuts or changes to Medicare offered up by both major party campaigns. He also cited concerns raised by some farmers at what they see as over-regulation of agriculture by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Janet Stonum, a retired insurance industry worker from Lathrop, called herself a conservative independent and voted for John McCain for president in 2008.
She said the Ryan choice “came as a surprise” to her, but “overall I am pleased and I think this is a good ticket.”
“I think (Ryan) approaches the issues head on and isn’t looking to kick the problems on down the road,” Stonum said, citing the rising national debt, the debate over health insurance, education and “the loss of our freedoms” as issues she believes will define the 2012 election.
She praised Ryan’s conservatism, especially his strong pro-life stance, as a chief reason for her support.
“I think we need them in the White House so we can get our country moving in the right direction again,” Stonum said.
Ryan’s conservatism and pro-life politics also were noted by Brandon and Jenna Eads, of Trenton, though with considerably less enthusiasm. Brandon, a farmer, and Jenna, a nurse, described themselves as Democrats and both voted for Obama in 2008.
“I think Ryan is good news for Democrats,” Brandon said. “He is too conservative. I don’t think he is a very good choice for Romney In fact, I think it ruins his chances of getting elected.”
“I don’t think the Democrats could have asked for a better candidate,” Jenna added.
The couple said they are frustrated by “tax cuts for the 1 percent at the expense of everyone else” and also feared further erosion of women’s reproductive rights under a Romney-Ryan administration.
Jon Shocklin, 21, of St. Charles, will be voting in his first presidential election in November, though he volunteered for the Obama campaign in 2008. He describes himself as a Democrat-leaning independent and said he plans to vote for Obama in the fall.
“I think (Ryan) is a great pick by Romney. He needs as much good press as he can get,” Shocklin said. “It is a smart move to get the conservatives behind him, but I don’t think it is enough to overcome all of Romney’s baggage.”
For Shocklin, the biggest piece of baggage for Romney is the health care plan, and associated mandate for purchase, he championed while governor of Massachusetts.
“Romney has to campaign against his own health care plan. Obamacare is based on his plan. I think that is pretty ironic,” Shocklin said.
He said he also believes lingering questions about Romney’s time at Bain Capital and his taxes will continue to plague the campaign.
“How can you run on your record as a businessperson and then hide from your record and only release a couple years of taxes?” Shocklin said. “It doesn’t make sense not to be completely transparent, especially since Obama has a public record so everyone knows where he stands.”