Leave it to former New York Times political correspondent (now Los Angeles bureau chief) Adam Nagourney to find bad news for Romney in his running mate's Paul Ryan's rapturously received convention speech. "With Speech, Ryan May Have Helped Himself More Than Romney," Nagourney nagged in a Thursday afternoon "Caucus" post.
By every measure – the cheers in the hall, the praise from commentators across the country, the elation among aides to Mitt Romney – Representative Paul D. Ryan’s speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination was a hit. He aggressively framed the campaign against President Obama, signaled that he, unlike some previous vice-presidential candidates, had no compunctions about leading the attack, and anchored Mr. Romney in a conservative school of thought that has come to define the Republican Party.
Then came the "but" paragraph:
The question now is what it might mean for Mr. Romney’s prospects of winning the White House. Could Mr. Ryan’s speech to the Republican convention here ultimately be remembered as doing more good for Mr. Ryan, the young Republican congressman from Wisconsin making his first foray into national politics, than for Mr. Romney, the 65-year-old former governor of Massachusetts making his second, and potentially final, bid for the presidency?
There seems little doubt, delegates and analysts said, that Mr. Ryan served himself well on Wednesday night. After a tentative start, he seemed in command of the room, drawing cheer after cheer as he made the Republican case against President Obama and presented the vision of greatly reduced government that he has championed on his rise to power in the House. At 42, several Republicans said, he had cemented his status – if he even needed to by now – as the leader of the generation of Republicans taking the stage as Mr. Romney’s generation begins its exit.
For one thing, Mr. Ryan’s sheer stage presence – his cool command of the stage, his crisp and sunny delivery of attack lines, his endearing invocation of biography -- has raised the stakes for Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney’s political strengths have not, for the most part, included delivering the kind of speech that moves a hall or captures a television audience. And until now, he has avoided the intimately personal discussion of his background that was so prevalent in the Ryan speech -- starting with the death of Mr. Ryan’s father when he was 16. The line has been drawn.