by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A top item at National Review Online this morning is Robert Costa’s column comparing the careers of new Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and former New York comgressman (and V.P. candidate) Jack Kemp.
Like Reagan, Kemp was a conservative hero, but his power base was the House of Representatives, as well as right-leaning journalists and think-tank scholars.
“As with many of us who served then, Jack, Newt Gingrich, and others always felt that the House of Representatives was the place where the country was ultimately changing or not changing,” says former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, a longtime Ryan confidant and Kemp ally. “It’s not that other areas are not important, but we felt that over time the House was probably the best indicator of where the country would go. It is closer to the people, the battlefield of ideas. Jack Kemp recognized that, and so does Paul, whose work is in that tradition.”
As he has risen on Capitol Hill, Ryan, a seven-term House member from southern Wisconsin, has built a Kemp-like political base. He has also repeatedly avoided the temptation to seek higher office, from turning down a Cabinet post during the Bush years to deciding against a Senate run earlier this year. The House, specifically the Budget Committee, of which he is chairman, is his home. So are the conference rooms at the American Enterprise Institute on 17th Street in downtown Washington, where he makes frequent appearances. His aim, it seems, hasn’t been just winning elections, but also winning an argument about the fiscal and economic stakes – and doing it cheerfully.