Just three days after being named Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan signaled Nevada's importance as a must-win battleground state by visiting Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The chairman of the House Budget Committee spoke to a fired-up crowd at Palo Verde High School, then met privately with Republican backers at The Venetian. (The hotel-casino is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp., whose chief, Sheldon Adelson, already has donated $10 million to a political action committee supporting Mr. Romney's campaign.)
Since being announced as Mr. Romney's running mate Saturday, Rep. Ryan has drawn large, enthusiastic crowds at campaign stops in Virginia, his home state of Wisconsin and in Iowa on Monday.
Rep. Ryan is author of the House Republicans' well-publicized budget plan, which, far from "ending Medicare as we know it," as Democrats charge, is moderate enough to allow continuing deficits while the nation's giant entitlement obligations gradually are reformed, guaranteeing those older than 55 all the benefits they've been promised. And he capably defends the plan against alarmist rhetoric in fiscal, moral and practical terms.
By choosing Rep. Ryan over potential running mates who might have done more to woo voters in critical states such as Ohio or Florida, Mr. Romney widely is considered to have doubled down on the economy and deficit spending as his main arguments for replacing President Barack Obama in the White House.
"The president has put us on the wrong path, and we're going to fix this thing to put America back on track," Rep. Ryan told his Las Vegas audience Tuesday. "We are going to offer optimism and opportunity."
In a video posted to YouTube Sunday, but reportedly filmed at a 2011 event at the University of North Carolina, Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House chief of staff and co-chair of President Obama's own deficit reduction commission, is seen praising Rep. Ryan's budget expertise:
"I always thought that I was OK with arithmetic. (Rep. Ryan) can run circles around me, and he is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget that he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan," Mr. Bowles says. "It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget. ... I'm telling you, this guy is amazing."
Mr. Bowles was less enthusiastic about President Obama's budgetary efforts to date, including one the Senate trashed on a 97-0 vote.
How successful was Rep. Ryan's visit to Las Vegas? How much energy did he bring to Romney's Nevada campaign? The next day, President Obama's campaign announced he would visit both Reno and Las Vegas next week.
Don't get annoyed by the nonstop TV commercials or the traffic tie-ups that candidates and their events might cause. They're a reminder that Nevada might very well decide who wins the White House. Your vote matters.