Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Roundup: How did Paul Ryan do?

August 30, 2012 -- Updated 1944 GMT (0344 HKT)
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate, speaks Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate, speaks Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
  • CNN analysts and contributors assess the speeches on the second night of the RNC
  • Maria Cardona: Ryan distorts facts on Medicare; Rice hopes Americans forget past
  • Erick Erickson: Paul Ryan excels, makes it hard to be painted as dangerous
  • David Gergen: Ryan pushes debate to a higher plane to start discussion on tough choices

(CNN) -- The second night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa featured speeches by Mitt Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, and by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served former President George W. Bush. CNN contributors and analysts offered these assessments of the evening:

Maria Cardona: Ryan distorts the truth; Rice counts on short memories

Paul Ryan knocked it out of the park from a rhetorical standpoint and brought down the house as expected. Great line about what was on his iPod versus what was on Mitt Romney's. Great play for the youth vote!

But it was disappointing to see him continue the tremendous distortion about President Barack Obama cutting Medicare, when his own plan calls for the same cuts that will actually reduce benefits for seniors. We heard continued criticisms but no real solutions. He said he would keep our spending to 20% of GDP but didn't outline what programs he would cut to get us there. Perhaps we already know why.

We have his blueprint in the Ryan Budget, which does nothing for middle-class families except make them bear the brunt of the tax cuts he would give wealthy Americans.

Ryan sets agenda for foreign policy
Romney and Ryan: 'A generation apart'
Ryan sets agenda for foreign policy
Father's death 'catalyst' for Ryan

Ryan talked about moral creed, but his budget slashes programs aimed at protecting those that he said we have an obligation to protect. If that is the Romney/Ryan American dream, then voters -- young, old, middle class, African-American, Latinos and women -- would do well to say thanks, but we'll keep our hope and change even if it takes four more years to get there.

Three things struck me about Condoleezza Rice's speech. First she mentions the 9/11 terror attack, which is a big risk reminding voters it was actually Obama who ordered the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. She also mentioned the nation's debt, perhaps hoping voters would not remember it was actually her boss' tax cuts, two wars and a Medicare prescription drug plan, all unpaid for, that added to that debt and plunged the country into deep deficits.

Then she mentioned immigration in the context of having to find a way to be more compassionate. This may have been an effort to erase for Latino voters the strident, offensive language on immigration and immigrants that Romney (his "self-deportation" fix, for one thing) and the GOP have adopted in recent years. It certainly won't be enough.

Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

Opinion: Paul Ryan a true son of Janesville, Wisconsin

Erick Erickson: Ryan a 'hard guy to paint as spooky'

Here's a fact about political campaigns: In close elections, parties often take the gamble that elections are base elections, i.e., they win by turning out their base, which they conclude is larger than the other guy's.

Right now, the Democrats have concluded that their base is larger than the Republicans, and they want a base election. The way to get the base out -- and not the independents, who most, if not all, polls show are going for the GOP -- is to go negative.

The Democrats have every incentive to make this election as nasty as possible. The Obama campaign website claims that Mitt Romney wants to send women back to the 1950s. A liberal group runs commercials showing a Paul Ryan lookalike shoving a grandmother in a wheelchair off a cliff.

Ryan's job was to get independents comfortable with Romney-Ryan. His goal was to tell independents that it was OK for them to vote for Barack Obama in a historic election and it is OK to like him now but want a new man in the White House.

He excelled. His rhetoric was not as high as Condoleezza Rice's speech, but he hit the high notes, related well and made it about the lessons he learned from his mom (carefully pointing out she was on Medicare as he expected to be).

Ryan is a hard guy to paint as spooky. He is a good-looking, charming guy with a good-looking, charming family. He's got youth but relates to older people. The Obama campaign has failed, over several weeks, to define him and will now regret that choice.

Ryan hit all the right notes and defined himself as a compassionate guy with a plan to fix problems. The one problem? His existence on the campaign trail continues to make him more consequential than the actual presidential nominee. Right now though, the GOP doesn't care.

Erick Erickson is the editor of the conservative blog and a CNN political contributor.

Hilary Rosen: Ryan speech short on ideas and misleading on Obama

Rep. Paul Ryan was supposed to be the smart addition to the ticket -- the one full of great ideas and policy truths. Unfortunately, his speech to the Republican convention Wednesday night was short on policy ideas and anything but truthful.

-- He told a story he knows to be untrue about a GM plant closing after the president had promised to keep it open, yet the plant actually closed when George W. Bush was president.

CNN fact check: Did Ryan get Obama's GM speech right?

-- He criticized the president for rejecting the conclusions of his budget commission, yet didn't say that Ryan himself was on the commission and voted against the recommendations.

-- He complained about the deficit but neglected to mention his multiple votes over the years in Congress for things such as unlimited and off-budget war appropriations and tax cuts for the wealthy that have produced record deficits.

-- He attacked Obama for cutting $700 billion out of Medicare (though the Obama plan puts some of the savings from cutting fraud back into actual health care), yet he neglected to admit that his own plan does the same thing.

Ryan offered no policy prescriptions for a new economy.

He obfuscated his own record and deliberately misled the country about Obama's record. Tonight was his introduction to America -- a chance to showcase how Mitt Romney was creating a new guide to the future. This is the next generation Republican leader? Judging from the reaction, I don't think the country was impressed.

Hilary Rosen, a CNN contributor, is a Democratic political strategist and former chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America.

'Gen Xer' Paul Ryan takes up GOP torch, makes case to young voters

David Gergen: Have Republicans found a young Reagan?

The delegates here in Tampa loved Ann Romney Tuesday night and loved Condi Rice Wednesday night. But Paul Ryan delivered the speech they have been longing for, and they exploded in enthusiasm. Conservatives will surely wonder whether they have found a young Reagan.

On the biggest stage of his life, Ryan spoke with the assurance, clarity and humor of a man of far more experience. He understood that the best way to make an effective indictment of President Barack Obama was to tell a story, and he did that well. As a CNN focus group said after, he seemed to do it as well without scaring people as an extremist.

Democrats will rightly take him on next week as they have sharply different views of how to create a fair and growing society. The press will rightly check his facts. Critics will rightly charge that he didn't spell out the Romney-Ryan economic plan. But Ryan accomplished something important: he pushed the debate onto a higher plane where we might get a more serious conversation about the tough, tough choices ahead.

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter.

Reihan Salam: Rice and Martinez make the strongest impression

It is striking that the standouts of the Republican National Convention so far -- Condoleezza Rice, the African-American Stanford political scientist who served as secretary of state during George W. Bush's second term; and Susana Martinez, the first Latina governor of New Mexico -- represent what remains a very white, very Anglo party.

For Republicans looking to the future, this is very good news indeed. Though many GOP stalwarts lamented their weak 2012 presidential field, the last two days have demonstrated that the party has a very deep bench.

While Paul Ryan gave an extremely effective, politically savvy speech, it is Rice and Martinez who made the strongest impression, and who seemed to demonstrate that the Republican party is broad, inclusive, and forward-looking. Though it's hard to tell if this year's RNC will do anything to change hardened public perceptions, its selection of speakers has been almost unbelievably good.

Reihan Salam, a CNN contributor, is a writer for the National Review's "The Agenda" blog; a columnist for Reuters Opinion; a policy advisor for e21, a non-partisan economic research group; and co-author of "Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream."

Ryan's speech gives undecided voters mild nudge toward Romney

William Bennett: Ryan makes a strong case against Obama's record

Last night, Paul Ryan introduced himself to the American people with a profound display of youthfulness, optimism, and authority -- authority that comes from an unquestionable knowledge of the economy and budget but also from having lived life and worked hard.

He delivered the convention's first searing line-by-line indictment of the Obama record in a tough, powerful, yet appealing and sympathetic way. During his time in the House, Ryan relied heavily on statistics, charts, and wonky graphs, of which he had unparalleled expertise. But last night's speech was something more. He made a philosophical case against the President's record with emotional appeal and real life, relatable examples, like the following:

"College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life."

I've known Paul Ryan very well through the years, starting when he worked for me at Empower America. He has had a remarkable tenure in the House. When he was picked by Mitt Romney to be Vice President I thought he would be good, but I didn't know how good. Last night he was great, and chances are he will only get better.

William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

Ruben Navarrette: Ryan does what Romney can't

Paul Ryan is Joe Biden -- without the gaffes and with a good head on his shoulders.

That was my takeaway as I watched Ryan's powerful speech Wednesday night accepting the Republican nomination for vice president.

In 2008, Barack Obama chose Biden as his running mate because the Harvard Law School graduate who seemed aloof and unable to relate to the concerns of everyday Americans felt he needed a running mate who understood the lunch bucket crowd.

This year, Mitt Romney -- another Harvard Law School graduate who is often accused of not being able to relate to everyday Americans -- chose Ryan for much the same reason.

Romney needed someone who could go before the American people and do something that Romney has -- in two presidential elections -- been unable to do for all his success in business: explain in plain language what's broken and how his party's values and his expertise can fix it and show everyday Americans that he understands their plight and knows how to keep government from making it worse.

That's what the 42-year-old son of Janesville, Wisconsin, needed to do with this, the most important speech of his political career. Well, to borrow a phrase: Mission accomplished.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1626 GMT (0026 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1126 GMT (1926 HKT)
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1629 GMT (0029 HKT)
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
August 24, 2014 -- Updated 0105 GMT (0905 HKT)
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1450 GMT (2250 HKT)
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?