And Jimmy Vielkind of the Albany Times Union deserves a shout-out for his creative pursuit of the local angle. Vielkind snagged an interview with Beth Myers’s son, Curt Myers, an incoming sophomore at nearby Union College, who drove Ryan to the secret August 5 rendezvous at which Romney offered him a place on the ticket. As probably the first outsider to talk to Romney’s just-anointed running mate, Curt Myers has credibility when says about Ryan’s demeanor on the ride back, “It wasn’t like he suddenly got on his high horse … I didn’t notice a huge change.”
Even the most detailed accounts to date leave the reader feeling that there are important untold parts of this story, though. After more than three decades of covering presidential politics, I acknowledge the difficulty of delving below the surface of a hermetically sealed campaign like Romney’s. Without publicly reported turmoil or ousted staffers, it is daunting to find an insider who will even offer banalities on background about anything more substantive than this week’s he-said-and-he-responded-with-outrage media flap, or the latest strategic gambit in Ohio.
But nothing that Romney will do or say in this campaign—neither his convention acceptance speech, nor his debate performances—will be as emblematic of his governing style in the White House as his choice of Ryan as his running mate. Thinking about Romney mulling over the veep pick file folders that Myers assembled for him, you can easily extrapolate to a president picking a Supreme Court justice or secretary of State.
Well, you could—except that we don’t know much about what was in Romney’s mind, other than an intense need for secrecy. That is why I hope that the reporters covering his campaign will keep searching for more details about what convinced the de facto GOP nominee to shun seemingly safe choices like Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman in favor of the more dynamic—and controversial—42-year-old congressman from Janesville. The answer, I suspect, is more complex than Romney wanting to change the campaign conversation from Bain Capital, or placating the Tea Party movement, or even seeing in Ryan a surrogate son.
Sure, the hijinks that the Romney campaign employed to camouflage Ryan from the press are amusing. But the dearth of in-the-room Romney narrative reminds us how little we actually know about what really goes on in a disciplined presidential campaign. Beth Myers parted the curtains for 30 minutes of semi-candor. All of us covering the campaign should feel a sense of humility about our inability to get much further than that in Mitt World.