- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

He’s stopped telegraphing cryptic messages to the news media and started getting on message himself. Wisconsin Rep.Paul Ryan is currently touring the nation with his new book “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” — and now reminding the public of his significant political pedigree. He recently appeared with 2012 running mate Mitt Romney, and publicly offered to drive the campaign bus himself if the agreeable but elusive Mr. Romney decided to run for the White House a third time. All charming. But his publisher also bills Mr. Ryan as the “intellectual leader” of the Republican Party.

Thursday marks a kind of piece de resistance for the Ryan resurgence. He will be showcased in a sold-out dinner and lecture at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California — to be introduced by Reagan-era stalwart and talk radio host Bill Bennett. It is the grand finale of Mr. Ryan’s 20-stop national bus tour. And it will likely be the friendliest audience he will encounter for a while. The author was confronted recently by young immigration activists while on the publicity trail, all of them vexed by the Wisconsin lawmaker’s vote against the so-called Dreamers seeking legal citizenship status.

Mr. Ryan himself is candid about his own Reagan inspirations.

“I’m trying to be a unifier of the party. I’m trying to make sure we stay a bold conservative party unified in its approach, inclusive and aspirational — because I’m a Jack Kemp Republican. I’m a Ronald Reagan Republican,” Mr. Ryan told The Fiscal Times on Monday.

“We shouldn’t focus on dividing ourselves but on unifying. We can do it without watering down our principles. We can do it even better if we show how we apply our principles to people’s common problems and offer better solutions. We have to speak to every American.”

BEN CARSON’s IOWA MOMENT

Well, there you go. Dr. Ben Carson had a heartland victory with a “whopping” 62 percent of the vote in a presidential straw poll conducted at the Polk County Republican Party Dinner on Sunday night, which took place in Des Moines but drew attendees from as far away as Minneapolis, who were anxious to yell “Run, Ben, Run” and witness the good doctor’s stirring speech.

“I hate political correctness,” he told the crowd. “I think it is a destructive thing. It’s antithetical to one of the founding principles of our nation: freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”

Dr. Carson drew three standing ovations.

“It’s clear that Dr. Ben Carson draws supporters who want him to make a presidential run in 2016,” says Vernon Robinson, campaign director of the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, an independent grass-roots group. “This poll shows that people like what he stands for and believe the country needs a leader like him.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was in second place with 7 percent of the vote, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with 4 percent. The ballot, incidentally, included 50 choices.

THE POTENTIAL OF OPTIMISM

The numbers are in: Republicans are more optimistic than the Democrats about the upcoming midterm elections, now less than 10 weeks off.

“Republican voters are widening the ‘expectations gap’ with the Democrats. About six-in-ten (61 percent) Republican and GOP-leaning registered voters think their party will do better than in recent elections — roughly double the share of Democrats (32 percent) who feel similarly about their party’s chances,” reports a new Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday.

Republicans also appear to be mulling over this election more than their political rivals: 58 percent of the GOP-ers have given “quite a lot of thought” to the midterms, compared to 44 percent of Democrats. That said, things are too close for comfort: Among registered voters, 47 percent would vote for the Democratic candidate, 42 percent would vote Republican, with 11 percent undecided.

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