Today Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan has a busy day with three events in three towns in a state where a tight senate race could tip the balance of power in Washington. He is being welcomed by one of the state’s most prominent Jewish businessmen, who has opened his home to raise money for a ticket with a Mormon and a Catholic.
It is a state that is “hemorraghing jobs” according to a recent study, and the unemployment rate is at 9%, above the national rate of 8.1%. A recent poll found this state’s Democratic governor is one of the least popular governors in the country. Barron’s called it the worst run state in the country.
It is a state where President Obama has not campaigned, and in the last Quinnipiac poll, he trailed Mitt Romney by 5 points in the “who do trust more with the economy” question. Just this week, this state’s supreme court ruled unanimously against the Democratic Secretary of the State, saying Republicans will get the top line on the ballot in November.
All of these factors set up a pretty compelling narrative, that could make positive headlines for the Romney Ryan campaign. Yet in a stunning decision, Ryan will make no effort to recruit voters in this state during his 8 or so hours here, and no effort to make even the most feeble attempt to get its seven electoral votes. There will be no public rallies, no visits to a factory decimated by the economy that is standard operating procedure for a campaign, and absolutely no media coverage.
That state is my state, Connecticut. Ryan’s visit to the Constitution State is his first trip to the state as vice-presidential candidate, and will be almost as mysterious as his clandestine trip here in August when he flew into Hartford to drive to Boston to secretly be offered the running mate invitation from Mitt Romney, to avoid the media at the airport in Boston.
As soon as we learned of Ryan’s visit to Connecticut this weekend, I began putting in requests for an interview to be aired on Face the State. After all, two of my friends in the business not only interviewed Ryan recently, but the Romney campaign actually offered the interviews and served their candidate up on a platter. Several other reporters received similar treatment.
Why them and not me, or any of my colleagues in the Connecticut press corps? It seems my friends’ viewers are more important to Romney and Ryan than mine. Those friends are reporters in Ohio and Florida.
Several leading Republicans in Connecticut have privately grumbled about the Romney campaign’s treatment of a state that has helped Romney outraise President Obama here by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. This weekend, Nutmeg Republicans will raise even more money to be spent on television advertising in states far away. In return, state Republicans won’t get a bit of help electing their candidates who need every possible break to win here. At least one told me it is offensive for a candidate to ask someone to shell out up to $10,000 for a picture, while refusing to meet with voters and the media. This Republican believes Ryan’s spurning of the Connecticut electorate and Republican slate, sends a message to voters that a Republican victory here is a lost cause not worth fighting for, and this person decided to pass on the Ryan fundraiser.
I get why the campaign doesn’t want any spend any money in a state they feel they can’t win, but Ryan is going to be here anyway. Why take a pass at free television on the most watched tv day of the week? The Giants, Jets, and Patriots are all on tv, meaning lots of eyes could have been seeing the newscasters said “Paul Ryan campaigned in Connecticut today.” Ryan might get someone who will say “I’m going to vote for the only guy who cared enough to come here and ask for my vote,” or maybe even inspire someone sitting at home to get out the checkbook. That’s exactly why both Romney, Ryan, Obama and Biden are spending so much time with retail politics in other states.
In fact, yesterday, Ryan held a rally in New Hampshire in an effort to get its paltry four electoral votes because 100 miles away the voters are so much more important. The Romney campaign offered us the opportunity to drive to New Hampshire to cover that rally. Thanks, but we really want to cover Ryan while he is in our state.
By shutting out voters, and the media, viewers will instead be seeing this on the news, “Protestors greeted Paul Ryan as he raised money inside mansions in three exclusive towns.”
Sure, the most recent poll by Public Policy Polling had Romney 13 points behind Obama here in Connecticut, but the most recent Quinnipiac poll had the margin at 7.
To be fair, President Obama has also given the “no thanks, see ya later” wave to Connecticut voters. His recent fundraiser in Westport cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in security, and yet there was no public event, and no media interviews. Democrats are gleefully confident the president will carry Connecticut, and Obama surrogates can be found in every statewide office and in the congressional delegation, Joe Lieberman being the lone holdout.
Still, 63% of registered voters in Connecticut are not Democrats. The biggest bloc of the 1.2 million voters here are registered as unafilliated. The last Q poll had Romney winning among the unaffiliated. And Connecticut is a fiercely independent state, that has bucked convention before. We elected independent Lowell Weicker governor 22 years ago, and Democrats chose Jerry Brown over Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential primary. Ask Ned Lamont, being a liberal Democrat does not guarantee you a win in a Connecticut November.
It would seem to me, the Romney campaign would at least want to try while they are here in the land of steady habits. If you are going to forfeit the game, why show up at the stadium? We know the answer: money.
Read about my quest to get an interview with President Obama: