Paul Ryan… A Tale of Intrigue: How Romney Kept His V.P. Choice Secret

As speculation increased on Mitt Romney’s V.P. choice, the press corps and additional reporters closely monitored potential candidates’ every movement and camped out at their homes. This photo of Paul Ryan’s house shows the surrounding wooded area where, on Friday August 10th, he would quietly slip out the back and through the trees… (Photo Alana Semuels/Los Angeles Times/Aug 11, 2012)

Inquiring minds want to know when Mitt Romney decided his running mate was Paul Ryan and how he kept it under wraps…

Wonder no more; here’s the tale (and what a tale it is!):

MANASSAS, Va. – The story could have been ripped straight from the pages of a Cold War-era spy novel: There were sunglasses and baseball caps, decoys and back routes through the woods.

As presidential candidate Mitt Romney settled on his running mate, Paul Ryan, his campaign over the course of 10 days went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the information and meetings between himself and Ryan from the eyes of an eager press corps.

The search began not long after Romney wrapped up the nomination. On Apr. 16, he announced that Beth Myers, his senior advisor and a longtime aide, would lead his VP search committee. “I had one directive,” Myers said in a briefing with reporters on Saturday evening. “That the candidates must be qualified to take office on day one.”

Working in a secure room at campaign headquarters in Boston, for the next six weeks Myers sought advice from others who had been given the same task in other campaigns: Dick Cheney (his daughter Liz Cheney was also included), and former Secty of State James Baker. By the beginning of May, a small circle of advisors had crafted a short list of ‘possibilities’. Myers won’t say how many were considered, only that “there was never an issue of too few candidates.” After a series of phone calls, Romney had spoken to everyone on the list. Not one refused to be considered for V.P.

Myers and her trusted advisors issued questionnaires to the candidates and tracked research, policy information, public records, etc. All documentation was secretly ensconced in individual safes at Boston campaign headquarters so nothing could be leaked. No photocopies were made. (Note: Just this past Friday, reporters leaving Romney’s campaign headquarters saw a worker wearing a ‘Shred-It’ shirt carry five bags out of the building.)

By mid-June preliminary reports were presented to Governor Romney. Since some issues needed further clarification, he met with several candidates to resolve questions. Myers said Romney talked to a lot of people, consulting with his senior advisors and others. “A lot of people,” Myers said. “He talked with a lot of people.”

On July 2, she gave Romney the completed folders and he began to consider the options before he left on his overseas trip.

By June, Myers was ready to interview the top candidates, and a retreat for top donors in Park City, Utah, provided cover. The short-listers were brought in ostensibly to talk policy with Republican financiers, but also were able to slip away for meetings with Myers.

While Romney was vacationing in Wolfeboro, N.H. during the week of July 4, Myers made the trip north with a few advisors with plans to review the final dossiers. Romney postponed a final decision until after his trip abroad at the end of July, and assembled his top advisors for a final “gut check.” Romney then informed Myers of his choice on Aug. 1.

“This is Mitt’s decision. He gave me direction every step of the way,” said Myers, who said she opted not to share her thoughts with Romney on the advice of an old mentor.

The same day, they placed a call from her office to Ryan to arrange a meeting for Sunday, Aug. 5. Romney had not yet extended an offer.

Operation V.P. now suddenly increased in intrigue and intricacy. The media was closely watching Romney, his advisors, potential candidates’ homes, and tracking any and all comings and goings.

“We gave a lot of thought on how to make this work undetected,” Myers said.

The plot thickens…

Four days later, Ryan traveled to Chicago from his hometown of Janesville, Wis., where he flew from to Hartford, Conn. — both locations chosen to avoid media attention. Having been instructed by the Romney campaign to “dress casually,” he wore jeans, a casual shirt, a baseball hat and sunglasses.

In Hartford, Myers’ 19-year-old son picked Ryan up at the airport in a rented SUV and brought him to her home in Brookline, Mass., about 100 miles away. [The SUV was driven directly into Myers' garage so neighbors would be none the wiser.] A short time later, Romney himself arrived at the house, along with four of his top aides: Ed Gillespie, Matt Rhodes, Bob White, and Spencer Zwick.

While the group entertained itself in Myers’ home, Romney and Ryan met for an hour privately in the dining room. When they came out, Myers said, “It was all set.”

“We talked about the campaign and how it would be run and talked about how we’d work together if we get the White House. What the relationship would be, how we’d interact and be involved in important decisions, but we talked about our families, what this meant for them,” Romney told reporters traveling with him on the plane Saturday night.

After receiving the call to meet with Mitt, Ryan later said he had a hunch he was going to be asked to be the Governor’s running mate. He said accepting the offer was an easy decision because “we’ve got to save the country.” However, as news spread of the shootings at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, located in Ryan’s district, the new V.P. nominee didn’t have much time to think about how his life had just changed. The same day the campaign had decided to roll out the vice presidential pick in New Hampshire was the same day as the funeral service for the victims of the tragic shootings.

As Beth Myers recounted the story, she said this is where the operation got a little complicated:

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Romney Says Obama’s Health Care Mandate is a Tax

In an interview today, Mitt Romney clarified his view on whether or not Obama’s individual health care mandate is a tax.

In that interview, Romney states:

“While I agreed with the dissent, that’s taken over by the fact that the majority of the court said it’s a tax, and therefore it is a tax. They have spoken.”

“They concluded it was a tax. That’s what it is, and the American people know that President Obama has broken the pledge he made,” he added. “He said he wouldn’t raise taxes on middle-income Americans. Not only did he raise the $500 billion that was already in the bill, it’s now clear that his mandate as described by the Supreme Court is a tax.”

In the run up to the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, Republicans, including Romney, had hoped that the mandate would be found unconstitutional as both a penalty and a tax. Republicans also argued that the mandate could not legitimately be classified as a tax. It should not be a surprise then that Romney, as well as other Republicans, originally disagreed with the majority ruling that found Obamacare constitutional as a tax.

But now that the Supreme Court has ruled, their ruling becomes the law of the land and the reality America must accept. As Romney said in his interview today, “If the Supreme Court says its a tax, it’s a tax.”

Romney believes that since we are stuck with the ruling and definition of the Supreme Court, Obama needs to be held accountable to the American people for that ruling. Obama needs to be held accountable to the American people that he raised their taxes after promising many times that he would not raise taxes on the middle class.

The Supreme Court ruling then represents a major problem for President Obama because he can now be accurately described as a “tax raiser,” and a politician who can’t (whether intentionally or unintentionally) keep his campaign promises. And Romney fully intends to exploit that weakness in the coming campaign.

Open Letter to the All-Powerful Illinois Voters — The Tipping Point is Now!

By Greg Stapley

Much has been said about the faceless “Republican Establishment” that supposedly wants this candidate or that candidate to represent the party in the upcoming presidential election. I don’t know who that is, or if such an Establishment even exists, but the people talking about it ignore one important fact: this thing is in the hands of American voters. And American voters seldom take orders from “establishments.”

Greg Stapley

This, week one state’s voters have the unique and historic opportunity to seal the decision in what could be the last meaningful contest of this primary season. Illinois voters can determine the course of history by finally picking the opposition candidate to Barack Obama.

We have some great candidates to oppose the current occupant of the White House. Every one of these contenders — Mitt, Rick, Newt, Ron — is a faithful son of the party. Each has substantial electoral credentials, and each of course has a record.

Not one of them is exactly like me or you. Each one is conservative in many things, but none of them has been perfectly consistent in all.

For example, Mitt is an economic conservative, but historically has not been as socially conservative as I am.

Rick is a social conservative, but his repeated earmarking, votes for Davis-Bacon and unbridled debt-limit increases make him anything but an economic conservative.

Ron is a monetary conservative, but he is somewhere to the left of Jane Fonda on national defense and foreign policy.

And Newt is a political conservative, but the danger for political conservatives is that they are political, and sometimes that means they compromise when they shouldn’t, and wind up sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi.

Nobody’s perfect.

But this is undeniable: Every single one of them would be miles ahead of Barack Obama in getting our economic house in order, putting America back to work, and restoring the American values that we hold dear.

This too is undeniable: None of them can win the general election alone. It will take all of us unitedly fighting together against the Obama machine to put our nominee over the top. And we need to start now.

The first step, if our opposition nominee is going to win the general, will be for us as voters to pull them all off of the hamster wheel that this primary has become. You know what I’m talking about: the increasingly cruel and counterproductive exercise in which the candidates are forced to constantly run around the country trying to “out-conservative” each other just to get that next block of delegates. It’s wearing all of them (and us) out, and it will ultimately damage our cause in the Fall.

And so without descending into the quagmire of which one is better than the other on this particular issue or that, it seems like it’s time to pull back and look at the big picture. It’s time to finally figure out which one is best positioned to carry the banner for American values and priorities in the upcoming general election. It’s time to put the debate amongst ourselves to rest. [more photos of romance below the fold] (more…)