Wisconsin’s state motto is “Forward.” It may be President Obama’s campaign motto too, but it’s the “cheeseheads” who have truly embodied it. Last June, Wisconsin took a big step forward when voters fought back and reelected Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, and a slate of state legislators over union and special interests. The election was a warning flag for November. Obama lost the public sector union battle in Wisconsin and now Wisconsin is bringing the fight to his doorstep in the form of a smiling, mild-mannered debate wunderkind named Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan not only provides an injection of youth and an added fiscal layer to the Romney campaign, he’s also favored by the grassroots. In June, I joined Wisconsin tea party groups in Racine as they rallied for Walker, Kleefisch, and Van Wanggaard. Congressman Ryan joined the rally and stayed for a large part of it. He met with Wisconsin grassroots leaders before and after his speech and gave several interviews to Wisconsin citizen journalists. He was accessible to grassroots, which ameliorates a weakness of the Romney campaign.
The selection of someone like Ryan reflects a concerted effort to infuse a grassroots vibe into the campaign — and possibly some Wisconsin schadenfreude, too.