I think Paul Ryan is well-suited to the task of shoring up support among certain quarters of the Right. Aside from his other obvious qualifications, he’s earned enormous good will from nearly all quarters. What’s interesting is whom he has to reach out to. Six months ago, if I told you the campaign would need to reassure segments of the Right, any remotely savvy political observer would have guessed those segments to be the tea-party base, talk radio, etc. You’d predict that Ryan (or some other hypothetical running mate) would be calling Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and maybe Mike Huckabee or Glenn Beck. Instead it’s Paul Gigot, George Will, and Larry Kudlow. Now I have enormous respect and admiration for all three of those guys. And I also think terms like “Beltway conservatives” and “right-wing establishment” are often used with something less than dispassionate rigor. But, still, Gigot-Will-Kudlow is not exactly a grassroots triumvirate.
I agree with Ross Douthat (NR’s movie reviewer who happens to have a side gig at some broadsheet in New York) that the divisions on the right, as illuminated by the Romney campaign, aren’t nearly so tidy as some might claim. But it’s certainly true that the most vocal criticism from the right of the Romney campaign has come from what many folks call the “elite.”
Still, my hunch — and it’s just a hunch — is that Gigot, Will, and Kudlow are at the top of the Ryan call list not because they represent the “Beltway establishment” but because they are among the three most influential pundits for the Romney campaign’s donor base who are in need of reassurance these days. I’ve talked to a number of people from the Romney donor world and one of their biggest complaints is that they get so little attention from the campaign. Unlike the Bush and McCain operations, the Romney team doesn’t have a real system for maintaining donor morale. This may be, at least in part, a roundabout way to deal with that problem.
If Paul Ryan wants to discuss this more, he’s got my number.