NYTimes: A G.O.P. Reunion, With Plans for More Togetherness

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Story as published by the New York Times

A G.O.P. Reunion, With Plans for More TogethernessBy RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and ASHLEY PARKER

VANDALIA, Ohio — For the first time in almost a month, Mitt Romney reunited on Tuesday with the man who many Republicans thought would charge up the presidential campaign: Representative Paul D. Ryan, the charismatic PowerPoint-wielder who can draw thousands to rallies that are really mostly giant question-and-answer sessions where they can ask “Paul,” in effect, how to save the party, and the country.

The question now is whether Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, can save his own ticket.

Mr. Ryan often seems to get people more fired up about Mr. Romney’s message than Mr. Romney does at his own rallies. But the last few weeks have been one step forward, two steps backward for the Republican ticket, capped by the disclosure of a video showing Mr. Romney telling people at a high-dollar fund-raiser that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves “victims” and are dependent on the government.

And so on Tuesday afternoon, two men in windbreakers — Mr. Romney, 65, and Mr. Ryan, who at 42 is the same age as Mr. Romney’s eldest son — got together on a windy tarmac outside Dayton that seemed to represent just how tough their challenge now is as new polls showed them trailing President Obama by significant margins in Ohio, a state considered critical for Republicans.

Romney campaign officials disputed the recent polling.

“If you don’t like a poll coming out of a state, wait five minutes and you’ll see one that you do like,” said Rich Beeson, the campaign’s political director, who suggested that predicting the Ohio vote was about as smart as betting on November’s weather.

But it was also clear that Mr. Romney’s aides were worried how the campaign was faring with six weeks until the election: Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney will campaign together more in coming weeks, an aide said.

In normal circumstances, that might be seen as inefficient, since the No. 2 is often used to cover more ground and to level the more aggressive attacks against the opponent.

But having them campaign together more suggested that aides feared that Mr. Romney, on his own, was not generating enough attention and excitement.

On stage in Vandalia, Mr. Romney not only praised Mr. Ryan, but also singled out Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who is playing Mr. Obama during Mr. Romney’s debate preparations.

“He plays him well, too, I hate to tell you,” Mr. Romney said. “We get the chance to debate one another, and after the hour and half or so is over, I like, I want to kick him out of the room.”

In interviews after Mr. Ryan’s rallies over the past week, two things seem clear and constant: one is that he is able to make deeply ideological and partisan arguments about sharply cutting the size of government without frightening more moderate voters, as other Republican candidates have over the past year.

The other is that the PowerPoint slides and wonky talk work powerfully well with many people who leave feeling that they have not been lectured to, but empowered.

“He speaks the truth, and he gives us facts,” Jackie Sullivan said after a rally in Orlando, Fla., last weekend that drew more than 2,000 people.

Michael Barbaro contributed reporting from New York.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 25, 2012

An earlier version of this article referred to the crowd at a rally in Vandalia, Ohio, chanting “Romney! Romney!” as Mr. Romney took the stage. Upon closer review of the audio, it was unclear if the crowd was chanting for Mr. Romney, his running mate, Paul Ryan, or for both men.

 

 

NYTimes: A G.O.P. Reunion, With Plans for More Togetherness

Updated