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In joining Romney, will Paul Ryan get his 'clear choice' campaign? (+video)

Back in February, long before he got the vice presidential nod, Rep. Paul Ryan urged Mitt Romney to run an 'affirmative' campaign, laying out how he differs from Obama. Picking Ryan may signal Romney's intent to do just that.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin speaks at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington, D.C., February 16.
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In selecting Paul Ryan for the GOP ticket, Mitt Romney appears to agree with one of the Wisconsin congressman's long-standing beliefs: If you aim for sweeping changes, you must run a campaign that clearly states your case to the American people.

Back in February, for example, Representative Ryan recounted the story of listening to President George W. Bush, who had just been reelected, discuss plans for his second term. It had been a bitter campaign, one that Mr. Bush had won with a focus on national security issues.

Ryan recalled that he was shocked to hear Bush discuss privatizing Social Security and taking on tax reform. “That’s the first time I heard of that,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters at a February Monitor breakfast, a bewildered look across his face.

“And I was [saying], ‘Yeah!’ ” he said, pumping his fist with the spine-tingling excitement that only he can muster about tax reform. “But it went nowhere.”

The lesson, according to Ryan? A campaign must articulate to voters the big changes it envisions making. That, of course, can be a risky move, especially when big changes involve political TNT like Medicare. But the new vice presidential hopeful nonetheless says he believes it best to be a proponent of laying out the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“We owe the country a very clear choice. The gridlock is as bad as its ever been. We need the American people to break it,” Ryan said back in February. “And what we owe them is that if we don’t like the direction the president has gone, and we don’t, we owe them an alternative.”

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