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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Stench and Gilligan

Roger Simon has a funny — and revealing — post, “Paul Ryan vs. The Stench,” up at Politico, and it bodes ill for the GOP ticket. Simon riffs on reports that Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has taken to calling his running mate “The Stench” behind his back.
Ryan’s dig comes in the wake of a New York Times story in which Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa is quoted in a moment of excessive candor, “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him. Here’s how Simon tells it:

Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”

Ryan was reportedly livid about the way Stench’s bungling handlers set him up for a big flunk with the AARP. Simon explains:

Even before the stench article appeared, there was a strong sign that Ryan was freeing himself from the grips of the Romney campaign. It began after his disastrous appearance on Friday before AARP in New Orleans. Ryan delivered his remarks in the style dictated by his Romney handlers: Stand behind the lectern, read the speech as written and don’t stray from the script.
Ryan brought his 78-year-old mother with him and introduced her to the audience, which is usually a sure crowd pleaser…But when Ryan began talking about repealing “Obamacare” because he said it would harm seniors, one woman in the crowd shouted, “Lie!” Another shouted “Liar!” and the crowd booed Ryan lustily.
Who boos a guy in front of his 78-year-old mother? Other 78-year-old mothers.

“That was the end of Ryan following the game plan,” Simon says. “Dan Senor, one of Romney’s closest advisers, has kept a tight grip on Ryan, traveling with him everywhere and making sure he hews to the directions of the Romney “brain trust” in Boston. (A brain trust, rumor has it, that refers to Ryan as ‘Gilligan.’)”
Simon then follows with a hilarious account of Ryan’s efforts to break free from the handlers by showing an Orlando town hall meeting a power point presentation with graphs on debt and federal spending etc., actually prefacing his presentation with “I’m kind of a PowerPoint guy, so I hope you’ll bear with me.”
“A word about PowerPoint,” adds Simon. “PowerPoint was released by Microsoft in 1990 as a way to euthanize cattle using a method less cruel than hitting them over the head with iron mallets.”
Simon reports that “The Romney campaign was furious” about Ryan’s going rogue and Ryan reportedly said, “Let Ryan be Ryan and let the Stench be the Stench.” Simon concludes “Ryan Fever. Catch it!”
Don’t be shocked if Ryan denies the Stench thing — it’s hard to see how he could tough it out otherwise. And there will probably be armpit photo-ops and other unconvincing shows of unity in the weeks ahead.
But it’s clear that these ticket-mates don’t dig each other all that much. What we get out of it is a snapshot of a sinking ship, with the captain blithering away on deck as Gilligan swims furiously for the island.

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