GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate will bolster him with conservative Republicans but may alienate moderate voters, local politicians and analysts said Saturday.
Ryan, a seven-term congressman from suburban Wisconsin, is a favorite of conservatives for his plans to dramatically cut the federal budget, rein in entitlement spending and cut the deficit.
Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the nonpartisan National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said Ryan is "not a game-changer but he is a game-easer in that he solves Romney's problems with conservative Republicans. Paul Ryan is the embodiment of the fiscal conservatism that inspired the tea party. So this is not just a nod to the tea party. It's a full-out bow."
But Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said Romney has "cast his lot with the most radical, conservative faction of the Republican Party . . . Mitt Romney may be comfortable having Paul Ryan 'a heartbeat away' from the presidency -- but no moderate American who values how far we have come can be."
Michael Dawidziak, a Bohemia campaign consultant who works primarily with Republicans, said Romney made a mistake in selecting Ryan because conservatives would have voted for Romney regardless. He said Romney would have been better off choosing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, both from swing states with more electoral votes than Wisconsin.
"This is not a great pick electorally," Dawidziak said. "I am not sure Ryan even brings Wisconsin to the table."
King said Romney has been unable to connect completely with middle-income Americans and people from working families, but that Ryan's background will appeal to those voters. "If Romney has a deficiency, it's with suburban voters," King said. "And Paul fills that gap. He is a very solid guy with no pretense."
Suffolk GOP Committee chairman John Jay LaValle said Romney "chose an individual with budget experience and an understanding of the American economy. It was a very smart choice."
But Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic Committee chairman, said Ryan "will get no traction with middle-class Americans concerned about their economic future. Romney and Ryan are just concerned about the rich, so this bodes well for Democrats."