NYT's Shear: With Ryan Pick, 'Romney Has Taken a Long, Deep Breath' of Congressional 'Hot Air'

New York Times "Caucus" reporter Michael Shear's Friday morning post laid into Mitt Romney for alleged hypocrisy in picking congressional veteran Rep. Paul Ryan, and also portrayed Romney's running mate as hurting the GOP's cause, neglecting that even the Times' own polls show a tightening race: "With Ryan, Romney Loses Claim to Outsider Status."

Mitt Romney could hardly have been more scornful of Washington politicians during a visit with conservative activists earlier this year.

"I served in government,” Mr. Romney told those gathered for the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “But I didn’t inhale. I’m still a business guy.”

The speech was no anomaly. Mr. Romney has spent years campaigning as an Washington outsider, often citing his lack of a long Congressional voting record as a way of avoiding the sometimes defensive explanations that are usually required of former lawmakers who run for president.

But by choosing Representative Paul D. Ryan to be his running mate, Mr. Romney has taken a long, deep breath of the hot air that flows through the halls of Congress.

In an instant, Mr. Romney embraced a 14-year legislative record that includes hundred of votes on hundreds of pieces of legislation, some of them controversial. Mr. Ryan’s Washington record is now Mr. Romney’s, effectively ending his claim to an outsider status.

Shear assaulted the Ryan choice from the left and the right:

The impact of Mr. Ryan’s Congressional record on the presidential contest is not theoretical. In the two weeks since Mr. Ryan joined the Republican ticket, his work in the House has already generated the kind of political targets of opportunity that Mr. Romney has long hoped to avoid.

Mr. Ryan’s legislative proposals to change Medicare have reframed the political conversation and given Democrats what they believe is new ammunition to raise questions about Republicans.

The congressman’s votes in favor of the bank and auto bailouts have generated concern among some conservative Tea Party activists who consider those votes among the worst policy decisions in recent memory.

And now, Mr. Ryan’s record of opposing abortion even in cases of rape or incest is complicating Mr. Romney’s response to the rape and pregnancy comments of Representative Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for Senate from Missouri.

Mr. Romney and his Republican allies are trying to turn that record into something positive.

They are assailing President Obama on Medicare, hoping to convince seniors that the president is the one they should be worried about because of his cuts to the insurance program.

And Republicans note that recent Gallup polling suggests that the country has tilted slightly against abortion rights in the last couple of years, an indication that Mr. Ryan’s position could be more of a help than a hindrance during the fall.