Home-grown Ryan leaves gap in foreign experience
One of the first things Congressman Paul Ryan said on Saturday when accepting the role of Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate was that even though he was in Congress he had “never really left” his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin in the American Midwest.
Mr Ryan’s focus on domestic issues and his reputation as a rather wonky budget hawk confirm that Mr Romney sees the November contest with President Barack Obama as a referendum over the US economy and the size of the federal budget.
Still, although US voters overwhelmingly cite economic issues as their main concern, they also want reassurance that their leaders can execute the role of commander-in-chief.
Introducing Mr Ryan Mr Romney said his new running mate was ready. But Democrats are already aiming at what they say is a dearth of national security experience on the Republican ticket.
“I think his [Ryan’s] experience as a vice presidential candidate is thin; or for a future president and commander-in-chief, it’s virtually absent,” said Tim Roemer, a former congressman, former ambassador to India and member of the commission that reported on the circumstances surrounding the 9/11 attacks.
Mr Obama had little foreign policy experience when he ran for president in 2008 as Illinois’ junior senator. He chose to balance that by tapping Senator Joe Biden, who had a long history of international experience and contacts, as his vice president.
None of the four men running for the two highest offices in the land are military veterans.
Romney campaign officials contend that Mr Ryan does bring experience in the foreign policy department, particularly when it comes to dealing with the defence budget.
“Governor Romney chose Congressman Ryan first and foremost because he’s ready on day one to step in as commander-in-chief should he need to assume that responsibility,” said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck.
In a speech last year, Mr Ryan said US fiscal policy and its foreign policy were on a collision course. “If we fail to put our budget on a sustainable path, then we are choosing decline as a world power,” he told the Alexander Hamilton Society in Washington.
What is known of Mr Ryan’s position on other national security issues suggests he is in the mainstream of Republicanism.
Mr Ryan’s website suggests he is in the Republican mainstream when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. He offers no great enthusiasm for the war, but does express concern that the pace of the pullout of US troops under Mr Obama “has the potential to pose security threats to soldiers” that stay behind.
Mr Ryan’s constant emphasis on fiscal soundness could play well on the international stage, said Tom Donnelly, the director of defence studies at the American Enterprise Institute think-tank in Washington.
“There is one thing the world really wants to know about the United States – will we get the government’s financial house in order?” Donnelly said.
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