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Key differences between Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney

August 11, 2012|By David Lauter
  • Mitt Romney , left, and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as they arrive for a rally at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.
Mitt Romney , left, and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as they… (Steve Helber / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- The Republican running mates, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, agree on most major issues, but present a sharp contrast in background, temperament and outlook.

Romney is a businessman who defines himself as a problem solver. His experience is executive, he prides himself on being data-driven and dispassionate about making decisions. He has switched positions on several major issues when that appeared politically necessary. He spent his career outside Washington and at key points in his life – particularly his early move to set up Bain Capital -- he carefully avoided excessive risk.

Ryan is a policy wonk who defines himself as a thinker. His experience is legislative; he prides himself on being philosophically consistent and passionate about his ideology. He has spent his entire career in Washington and advocates taking big risks to make big gains.

Photos: Paul Ryan announced as Romney's running mate

“Some argue that we should downplay bold agendas and simply wage a campaign focused solely on the president and his party,” Ryan told reporters earlier this year. “I firmly disagree. Boldness and clarity offer the greatest opportunity to create a winning coalition. We will not only win the next election - we have a unique opportunity to sweep and remake the political landscape."

In sharp contrast to Romney, Ryan is a conviction politician, one whose career has been driven by his views on policy issues.

“To me it’s sort of a moral issue,” Ryan said in an interview earlier this year, referring to the government’s budget. “There is right and there is wrong.”

“There are absolutes in life, and it is wrong to knowingly do nothing to prevent a catastrophe from happening,” said Ryan, a Roman Catholic who said he prays daily for the country to be on a better fiscal footing.

PHOTOS: Paul Ryan's past  

Too many politicians fear the so-called third rails of politics, he added, saying: “I’ve been hugging these third rails for years now, and I didn’t die. I’m trying to show my colleagues you can do this.”

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David.lauter@latimes.com

Twitter: @davidlauter

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