If Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin Congressmember Paul Ryan as his running mate on August 11 was no surprise to many, neither is the mixed reaction that the selection has garnered in Brooklyn, with Republicans and Conservatives applauding the pick, and Democrats and Liberals decrying it for the most part.
Congressmember Michael Grimm, a Republican, was one of those giving Ryan a thumbs-up. “In the time I’ve come to know Paul Ryan, I’ve learned he is a man of principles and traditional values,” Grimm said. “I believe he will be an excellent vice president, combining his knowledge on the economy with a strong work ethic to help put our country back on track and get Americans back to work.”
Mike Long, chair of the New York State Conservative Party, added his endorsement, contending in a press release that “Governor Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president, Congressman Paul Ryan shows his commitment to solving the country’s economic problems.” Long also opined that Ryan, “will use his budgetary expertise to stem the tide of our nation’s debt and restore fiscal sanity.”
Republican Chairperson Craig Eaton also praised Romney’s choice. “Many middle-aged Americans have given up hopes of finding long-term employment, and the Romney-Ryan ticket will speak to those voters and let them know that there is an alternative to the status quo,” Eaton said.
“Jobs and the economy are what this election is all about,” continued Eaton, “Paul Ryan’s nomination moves the economy back to being the central focus of this race, and that’s the way it should be.”
Democrats, almost unanimously, took a vastly different approach.
Assemblymember Peter Abbate said that some of Ryan’s ideas, like the privatization of Social Security and converting Medicare into a voucher system, worry him.
“We will only be going backward, instead of forward,” Abbate contended. “He will be taking away from the needy, the seniors who work so hard.”
“Ryan plans to destroy Medicare, give tax breaks to millionaires and privatize Social Security,” remarked Justin Brannan, president of the Bay Ridge Democrats. “If Romney loses big in November, Saturday’s news will have been the game changer, especially in states like Florida, where senior citizens know the importance of Medicare.”
Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries, who is running for the congressional seat being vacated by the retiring Edolphus Towns, also panned the choice.
“Mitt Romney has chosen a running mate who is the architect of plan that gives tax cuts to the super-rich and slashes services for working families,” Jeffries said. “Paul Ryan supports decimating education funding, dismantling Medicare and burdening the unemployed. Given the chance, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will weaken our nation’s economy instead of helping to move it forward.”
There was one local Democrat who spoke in favor of the choice. Former Councilmember Simcha Felder, who is running for state Senate in the newly created “Super Jewish” district in Borough Park and nearby neighborhoods, sent out a press release asserting, “Paul Ryan is a terrific pick for vice president.
“As chairman of the Budget Committee,” Felder added, “he brings tremendous knowledge of fiscal policy and will be an asset to a Romney administration. Congressman Ryan is a staunch supporter of Israel. His addition to the ticket will help put America back to work and keep the United States and Israel safe.”
As for the man and woman on the street, their differing views mirrored those of the politically connected.
Grace Del Pin, who considers herself to be a conservative, said she was very happy about Romney’s decision.
However, Joanne from Bay Ridge said she thinks Ryan “looks like he’s doing an impression of a vice-president,” and said he is not to be taken seriously.
John B. concurred. “I just don’t want Romney in,” he said. “I’m in a union, and he’s against unions.”