Republican strategist Ed Rollins says Paul Ryan will "wipe up the floor" with Vice President Joe Biden in the campaign debates this fall, and that the country is hungry for the "substance" the Wisconsin congressman brings to the presidential race.
"Ryan is going to be a great articulate spokesperson out there. He is going to wipe up the floor with Biden in the debates," Rollins told Fox News' Sean Hannity Monday night.
He added that Mitt Romney's new vice presidential running mate is already providing the kind of "substance . . .the country has been crying for," even if it's focused at the moment on the touchy issues of Medicare and his own budget plan.
Rollins, who was a key political adviser to President Ronald Reagan, predicted Ryan "will get stronger" as the race gets tougher because "he's very good on television" and is "getting more confident on the campaign trail."
"He is energizing the ticket and Romney is performing much better" since Ryan was added to the Republican ticket, Rollins said.
The political consultant also called it a "great strategy" for the Romney campaign to hit the Medicare issue head on because "no one is better than Paul Ryan" at explaining to people how "crippling" Medicare' s drain on the federal budget is and its overall impact on the economy.
Democratic strategist Doug Schoen, who appeared with Rollins on the Hannity show, cautioned that putting Medicare front and center in the campaign might not be a smart move for the Romney team.
"The Republicans can win this election on jobs, economy, and economic growth," said Schoen, a former political adviser to President Bill Clinton. But he added, "If the election is about Paul Ryan and Medicare, I can tell you . . . the Republicans will be disadvantaged because Ryan's unpopular, his plan is unpopular."
Rollins agreed "jobs are the endgame" in the election, but he insisted it was just as important for the Romney-Ryan campaign to focus on difficult issues that might help influence voters looking for straight talk in a campaign already dubbed one of the most negative in U.S. history.
Schoen said it was hard to "defend Obama's campaign tactics" in the race so far. But he said they appear to be working because Romney is still trailing the "very unpopular president" in most polls. The reason, Schoen told Hannity, is that Obama has been able to hold "attention away" from his "huge vulnerability," which is the economy.
"I hope the Republicans are listening," he said. "They have to move to jobs, the economy and economic growth, and a better future. They have to run like Ronald Reagan, otherwise they'll have a tougher campaign."
Rollins, however, said there was some evidence as recently as the president's news conference on Monday to suggest Obama is growing increasingly nervous about the election.
"Total loss of cool is walking into the [White House press room], where he hasn't been for months," Rollins said, and then proceeding to "lay out more mistruths and misleading information."
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