Campaign professionals vetting Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as a potential Republican vice presidential candidate warned Mitt Romney‘s strategists that the Congressman had a “history of exaggeration and prevarication” that could become a campaign issue and distraction but the GOP presidential nominee’s team ignored the warnings.
Romney campaign insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue that an intense internal battle raged inside the campaign over Ryan’s history of blatant lies, factual misstatements and exaggerations.
Those supporting Ryan pointed out that Senator Joe Biden had a similar history when then-candidate Barack Obama tapped him as a running mate in 2008. Biden had lied about his military record, admitted plagiarizing the speeches of others and padded his resume.
“It’s starting to look like both camps give potential vice presidential candidates lie detector tests and then consider only those who flunk,” groaned one senior Republican strategist, who asked not to be identified.
Campaign insiders say Romney was so determined to capture support of the tea party that reveres Ryan that he was “more than willing” to overlook the Congressman’s casual relationship with the truth.
“Paul Ryan is a loose cannon. He’s Mitt Romney’s Sarah Palin and his involvement with the campaign will sink the Republican Party in this election,” said another GOP pro, who also asked to remain anonymous.
“When I heard Ryan was on the short list, my first reaction was ‘oh, Christ, here we go again,’ ” the longtime GOP operative said Sunday. “The man tells so many whoppers so often that I’m not sure he even knows when he’s lying.”
Ryan’s disassoication with reality will keep fact checkers busy from now until November. News organizations found multiple lies, exaggerations and half-truths in his convention speech and his claim that he once ran a marathon in under three hours brought a quick reversal after the record showed otherwise.
“I misspoke,” Ryan said.
He does that a lot.