RALEIGH — Mitt Romneys selection of Paul Ryan as a running mate energized both Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina on Saturday, a day before the newly minted GOP ticket is scheduled to make its first trip to the state.
Hes a smart pick, said N.C. Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, who won election to Congress in 1998, the same year as Ryan. Paul Ryan is absolutely rock solid. Hes honest. Hes thoughtful, and he has extremely strong intellect.
But the vice-presidential announcement means Romneys much-anticipated campaign bus tour wont make a stop in the Raleigh area Sunday evening, as originally planned.
The campaign will conduct rallies in Mooresville and High Point before flying the candidates to Wisconsin for an event in the congressmans home state. Matt Romney, the candidates second-oldest son, and Republican gubernatorial nominee Pat McCrory are still scheduled to appear at Smokeys Shack in Morrisville.
Ahead of the tour, a Democratic National Committee bus visited Raleigh on Saturday to raise questions about Romneys economic proposals.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said Romneys economic policies are actually designed to hurt the middle class and said Ryans selection further proves his point.
This election is about the fundamental choice our country faces: Barack Obamas plan, which grows our economy from the middle out, or Mitt Romneys plan, which is to try trickle-down economics again, he said. We certainly dont need Mitt Romney and Paul Ryans economic plan.
Ryans visit to Big Eds
Ryan promoted his plan to overhaul federal spending, cut the deficit and reinvent Medicare two months ago in a visit to Big Eds restaurant in Raleigh.
State Senate leader Phil Berger, who sat next to Ryan at the event, said the congressman will refocus voters attention on the central issues of the campaign, such as federal spending.
I think what this pick says is that Romney wants to send a strong message that he wants to deal with the fiscal issues facing the nation, said Berger, an Eden Republican. I think most people who have seen Ryan say he is very capable of articulating an opinion and defending that opinion.
Even though Democrats have used the congressmans budget proposals to attack Romney for months now, Carter Wrenn, a veteran Republican strategist in North Carolina, said he hopes Ryans presence on the ticket means we are going to debate some of these issues seriously instead of just throwing charges back and forth.
Tea party skepticism
Not all conservatives are enamored with Ryan.
Craig Hopkins, a 52-year-old from Clemmons and self-identified tea party member, is concerned that Ryan voted for the Patriot Act, a law designed to help fight terrorism but criticized for giving the government too much power. He also disliked Ryans support of the $700 billion so-called bailout of Wall Street.
I got involved with the tea party because I was tired of the lip service from Republicans, Hopkins said. Romney is just a big-government spender. So is Ryan. How could tea partiers support that?
Hopkins said he plans to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.