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Playing to party strengths page 4
Jennifer Marisco's op-ed on the GOP convention: 2012 campaign topics.

 Even though Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was successful, the GOP has worked to distance itself from culture wars.
Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/MCT
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Date published: 8/26/2012


In the wake of Ryan's selection as the vice presidential candidate, there is one area in which Republicans need to exercise some care: They must be careful not to focus too much of their discussion on entitlement programs. Whereas Republicans have the advantage when it comes to talking about spending, Democrats have the edge on these programs. On dealing with Medicare, Americans trust Democrats over Republicans by a 40 to 24 percent margin. Same goes for Social Security: Democrats have a 36 to 24 percent edge on that issue. Democrats have wisely turned the conversation toward these programs since Ryan was added to the Republican ticket, but the GOP must make the economy the main focus again if they hope to win this fall.

With their convention officially kicking off the home stretch of the presidential election campaign this week, Republicans need to remember a lesson from Bill Clinton's successful 1992 campaign: It's the economy, stupid. Now that Romney has selected Ryan, the two Republicans need to stress that their understanding of fiscal and budget issues will mean a quicker economic recovery for America. If they can convince voters of this, they stand a good chance of taking back the White House.

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Jennifer Marsico is a senior research associate at the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on campaigns and elections, election reform, and government continuity issues.