* Ryan seen as best choice in vice presidential field
* Many conservatives still don't trust Mitt Romney
* But some say Ryan will make them think again
By Nick Carey
Aug 11 For Tea Party activists uninspired by
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the choice of
fiscally conservative Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice
presidential running mate might allow them to vote in November
without holding their noses.
Hours after Romney's announcement on Saturday, Tea Partiers'
reactions ranged from "Wow!" to "a step up from Romney" to "this
doesn't change a thing for me" - what one would expect from a
notoriously fragmented coalition bound by a desire for smaller
Many hailed the selection of as a sign of fiscally
conservative movement's growing influence on the Republican
Party platform. Others said it will not eradicate the enthusiasm
deficit among conservatives that has dogged the former
Massachusetts governor's campaign.
"This absolutely brings excitement to the ticket," said
Debbie Dooley, co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, who said she
her reaction was "Wow!" when she heard the news. "This gives us
something to vote for rather than voting against (incumbent
Democratic U.S. President Barack) Obama."
The main reason for that excitement is, as Dooley puts it,
that Ryan has "bold ideas for true reform."
The blend of tax and spending cuts that the congressman and
chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee has laid out in
what has been called the "Ryan plan" broadly reflects the Tea
Party movement's core tenets of fiscal responsibility and
Although Democrats have lambasted the "Ryan plan" as an
extreme measure that would gut Medicaid and Social Security for
the elderly, some fiscal conservatives deem it too timid.
The conservative Club for Growth, for instance, described
Ryan's selection as a "message that Governor Romney is
interested in bold reforms to save America from fiscal
Yet in March the group described the Ryan plan as a
disappointment because it would take too long to reduce the U.S.
Fiscal conservatives want more drastic cuts, sooner, to fix
what they say is America's fiscal mess. But many said on
Saturday that Ryan has taken a step in the right direction.
"Ryan has at least thought about the problems and come up
with a workable solution," said Ned Ryun, president of American
Majority, which trains Tea Party activists around the country.
"He's a good, articulate spokesman who will assuage the fears of
many conservatives that Romney just doesn't get it."
'NO ONE'S EXCITED ABOUT ROMNEY'
There was little doubt on Saturday among Tea Party activists
that Ryan was the best choice from a field of vice presidential
aspirants that included former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty
and Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman.
Activists also said the selection of a fiscal conservative
like Ryan reflected the continued influence of the Tea Party,
whose successes this year against more moderate Republicans have
included Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock's defeat of
six-term U.S. Senator Dick Lugar and the recent U.S. Senate
primary win by former state solicitor general Ted Cruz in Texas.
"Ryan is absolutely the best choice for Romney's running
mate," said Karen Martin, organizer of the Spartanburg Tea Party
in South Carolina. "This choice reflects a lot of the issues
that have always been important to the Tea Party."
Some activists predicted Romney could get the kind of boost
from the conservative base that Republican presidential nominee
John McCain enjoyed in 2008 when he picked Tea Party favorite
and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
But there were also plenty of reminders from Tea Party
activists that this movement is not monolithic and that many
conservatives remain suspicious of Romney. They take issue with
his apparently shifting positions on gay marriage and abortion
and a healthcare insurance reform he carried out in
Massachusetts that inspired President Obama's national reform.
Many conservatives say they simply do not believe Romney is
one of them.
"Ryan is a step up from Romney, but that's not saying much,"
said Tina Dupont of the Tea Party of West Michigan. "It might
help him win the election, but no one's excited about Romney."
Among the positive messages in online forums and Tea Party
Facebook pages on Saturday, there were also plenty of references
to Ryan's less conservative votes. He supported the bank bailout
in 2008, which is anathema to conservatives and has been a
significant part of campaigns to unseat moderate Republican
"Paul Ryan voted for many of the things that led to the
creation of the Tea Party," said Karen Hurd of the Virginia Tea
Party Alliance, who said she does not support Romney.
"While the majority of the Tea Party will vote for Romney, I
haven't spent four years fighting Obama to get Obama Lite. This
doesn't change a thing for me."
But other Tea Party activists who have remained deeply
skeptical of Romney and still dislike him said the choice of
Ryan would at least make them think again about voting for him