In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.
The most cutting criticism of Ryan, shared only by a handful of strategists, is that Ryan isn’t ready to be president — or doesn’t come across as ready. A youthful man who looks even younger than his 42 years, Ryan could end up labeled as Sarah Palin with a PowerPoint presentation, several operatives said.
“He just doesn’t seem like he can step into the job on Day One,” said the strategist, who professed himself a Ryan fan.
And that’s just what it does to the Romney-Ryan ticket. Forget how it plays in close House and Senate races.
“Very not helpful down ballot — very,” said one top Republican consultant.
“This is the day the music died,” one Republican operative involved in 2012 races said after the rollout. The operative said that every House candidate now is racing to get ahead of this issue.
Another strategist emailed midway through Romney and Ryan’s first joint event Saturday: “The good news is that this ticket now has a vision. The bad news is that vision is basically just a chart of numbers used to justify policies that are extremely unpopular.”