Paul Ryan, Congressional Candidate? Oh, Right
Ryan is still on the ballot to keep his House seat. Strategist Paul Wilson must win this second campaign, while hoping Ryan can’t take the job.
October 5, 2012 - 12:00 am
Q. How did you react to the news that Ryan was chosen?
A. I started texting friends, like you, all through the night. I worked right across all time zones and ended with Republican Party Chairman Dave Sablan in Guam — where America’s next day begins. So when you think about it, I texted so much I texted into the future.
Q. Do you view Ryan’s congressional race as an “insurance policy” since Intrade is now waging that President Obama has a 74% chance of winning reelection?
A. I have the same goal I have had for the last 16 years — get Paul Ryan re-elected to Congress. Same fine candidate. Same goal. In the process, I am hoping our modest efforts help the bigger effort.
Q. What is it like to be a political strategist and to have a long-time congressional client run for reelection while he is also running for VP?
A. It is a cross between being picked in the second grade to lead the class to lunch and being as happy as Robert De Niro in Goodfellas when Joe Pesci is told he is a “made man.”
Q. Has Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign message changed since he was chosen as Romney’s VP?
A. Yes, it has. The new message is: “Vote Twice for Ryan.”
Q. Has Paul Ryan changed at all since you were involved with his first congressional campaign in 1998?
A. He’s either gotten a lot smarter, or I have gotten a lot dumber. He knows the budget at a level that is astounding.
Q. Have you had much contact with Ryan since he was tapped as VP?
A. At the Republican National Convention in Tampa we had a very nice 15 minutes in his hotel suite that got extended to 20 minutes. He reviewed his congressional spots and got to talk with his congressional and campaign staff. I remember him saying: “It’s just surreal. You get off the plane and into the car to speed downtown — and the highway has been closed for you.”
Q. Has Ryan’s congressional campaign media budget increased or decreased as a result of his being on the national ticket?
A. Increased a little. We added trumpeters to ride on a flat-bed truck throughout the district prior to the vice presidential debate. Actually, we cancelled the trumpeters and bought an extra week or two of Madison, Wisconsin, television.
Q. Is this situation good for business at Wilson Grand? I notice a TV ad for Ryan is prominently featured on Wilson Grand’s home page.
A. We make commercials that are different. They typically feature the candidate (that’s a real inside joke in political advertising now, because most spots do not). Ours for Paul Ryan always have. Paul Ryan liked that style, and Frank Luntz and Lowell Baker of the Luntz Group and Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies and Andy Speth, Ryan’s longtime keeper of the flame, really wanted that style on display. They wanted Paul Ryan talking to people about the most important issues of the day. That’s what we gave them. Barely a super to be found and only a tiny tiny drop of music on some of them. You’ve heard of the “full Nelson” wrestling hold — well these TV spots are a “full Ryan.”