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Politicos Scrutinize Ryan As Romney's VP Pick

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Last week a poll came out showing President Obama maintaining a slim, 4-point lead in Virginia. This weekend former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tried to erode that support by unveiling Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate on the GOP ticket.

As the chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan is known as a staunch fiscal conservative who laid out a plan for the past two years to drastically cut the federal budget. But the proposed cuts have their critics because many of them fell on social programs, such as Medicaid and food and nutrition programs for low-income families.

"What Mitt Romney is demonstrating here is that he wants to double down on an economic agenda that helps people like Mitt Romney, at the expense of the rest of the country," says Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee. "Because that's what the Republican Ryan budget does, it provides big tax breaks for folks at the very top."

Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says the Ryan budget proposal won't spur economic growth.

"If you look at the plans, you'll see it's not a deficit reduction or debt reduction plan," says Mann. "It worsens the problem before it ostensibly fixes it."

Experts say Mitt Romney's pick of Ryan will have an impact with fiscal conservatives in Virginia, which has become one of this year's closest contests.

In addition, some members of Congress, such as Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, who has served on the opposite side of the aisle of Ryan on the House Budget Committee, says Ryan isn't ready to lead the nation if a tragedy were to befall a President Romney.

"This is a very inexperienced 42-year-old member of Congress who has no work history expect a stint in the family business and a stint at a think tank before he got elected to Congress at a very early age," says Connolly.

Some analysts say Ryan will energize Tea Party conservatives who were divided during the contentious Republican primary. Many members report being less than satisfied with Romney, so now they're cheering that he tapped the young, energetic fiscal hawk. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va. says the pick bodes well with his party's base.

"Certainly with Virginia conservatives, he's a household name," says Morgan.

Ryan will soon be a household name with liberals, too. Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. says the Ryan/Romney ticket, which is promising a drastic restructuring of the federal government, gives voters a clear choice in November.

"I think that this is going to force voters to decide what they see as the future of America, what their most basic beliefs are," says Moran. "By the time this campaign is concluded, there will be no ambivalence."

As the campaign gets into full swing, expect to be inundated with campaign ads, as both sides will pour in millions of dollars in an effort to define their opponents, and win over the ever so important independent voters in the Commonwealth.


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