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McKinstry: John Boehner defends the Paul Ryan pick over breakfast

Speaker of the House, John Boehner speaks to

Speaker of the House, John Boehner speaks to the New York and Puerto Rico Republican Delegations during their Breakfast event at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort in Clearwater FL.. The delegations are in Florida attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa. August 29, 2012 Credit: newsday Thomas A. Ferrara

TAMPA -- Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan is far more than an attempt to win that swing state.

Speaking before New York’s delegation Wednesday morning, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner of Ohio — another key battleground state — says it means the party isn’t sitting on its heels. It “says more about being on offense,” he told the crowd of several hundred people.

“The president is going to make the election about anything but the economy,” Boehner said to the group. “It’s about the economy and jobs.”

Ryan, a conservative fiscal hawk, gave Republicans a needed jolt, but his with the race so tight, it’s hard to know whether he garners many of the moderates and undecided voters that the Republican Party needs. The pick wasn’t seen as a slam dunk in the Empire State. Many still have some angst.

Ryan is set to speak tonight before millions of viewers, so this is his big chance to introduce himself to those undecided voters. The conventional wisdom is that he’ll go with a more personal approach and try to tone down his penchant for the wonky.

He’ll need to do a little of that. But he shouldn’t avoid bullet points of how to kick-start the economy. He’ll have to explain his Medicare plan — if not at his speech tonight at the Republican National Convention, then soon.

New Yorkers are worried about his Medicare proposal –- the one Dems characterize as a “voucher system” and say would “end Medicare as we know it” -- and even the state’s Republican delegation acknowledges that. Suffolk County GOP chairman John Jay LaValle told Newsday that it was a tricky issue that has to be dealt with.

It does. So it must be in the offensive playbook.