On Monday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” veteran newsman Dan Rather joined host Rachel Madddow to discuss Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s difficulties as be steps out of the right-wing media bubble and into the view of actual American citizens, who, it turns out, are neither particularly fond of the man nor his policies.
While many in politics have publicly heaped praise on Romney for choosing Ryan, polls are showing that Ryan has failed to impress many Americans, scoring the lowest approval ratings of any vice presidential pick since Dan Quayle. Concerns are already rising among the GOP’s party elite that the so-called “budget guru” may prove to be a drag on the ticket.
Things were not off to a propitious beginning in Iowa yesterday as Ryan was set upon by hecklers who demanded answers about the congressman’s plan to gut Medicare and replace it with a voucher system.
“Paul Ryan is not used to this,” said Maddow, “Paul Ryan is used to traveling in Republican circles” where he is treated with deference and respect by his fellow travelers.
She then cut to footage of Ryan being presented with a birthday cake on the set of “Fox News Sunday,” a cake with a giant green dollar sign drawn on it in fondant as anchor Chris Wallace cooed over the congressman like a love-struck schoolgirl.
“I was up all night making it,” gushed Wallace.
“I don’t eat sweets,” said Ryan, turning up his nose.
This, said Maddow, is where one branch of our current “bifurcated media” diverges sharply from reality. While Ryan is a hit among conservative media figures — Glenn Beck famously declared, “I think I’m in love” after one Ryan speech — he does not fare as well among people who don’t haunt sound stages and wear pancake makeup to work.
Outside the Fox News universe, she said, Ryan is known mostly as “The ‘Kill Medicare’ Guy.” Maddow reported that in one CNN poll, Ryan’s budget plan was viewed negatively by 74 percent of people over 60, a group that typically skews heavily Republican. That, she believes, is going to change this year.
“It’s not just Christmas in August” for Democrats, she said, “It’s like Christma-birthday-Kwanzaa-ica in August!” Because Ryan is viewed as so extreme and as such an ideologue, she believes that he is a sign of the Romney campaign’s desperation. “This is not the guy you pick to win Florida. This is the guy you pick to win ‘Fox and Friends.’”
Appearing in the second half of the segment, Rather weighed in on the liability Ryan could prove to be in Florida, but provided a warning.
“I’ve been covering politics since way before Tim Tebow was born,” he said, and Ryan, who he perceives as a “serious, intelligent” man could still find a way to resonate with the public. He reminded Maddow that politics can and often does turn on a dime. It may be early in the game to count Ryan out.
Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below: