Last night, Paul Ryan took some time to participate in a tele-townhall that was not a part of his official public calendar. And what was the event that the Romney campaign didn't want to advertise? It was the right-wing congressman's plea/warning to a group of evangelical Christians.
"And in these critical battleground states, it's going to make the big difference as to whether or not people are worried about where America's headed, worried about whether we're going to reassert our Constitution, or whether or not we're going to go down the path the president has put us on," Ryan said speaking on a Faith and Freedom Coalition tele-townhall with thousands of voters across the country.
He continued, "It's a dangerous path, it's a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place."
There are a few angles to this that are worth considering. The first is that this is some pretty unhinged rhetoric for a candidate seeking national office. It's expected that Ryan would condemn President Obama's agenda, but to argue that the agenda threatens the values of "western civilization" is qualitatively different. It's the kind of extremism we might expect from a televangelist, not a vice presidential candidate two days before an election.
Second, the tele-townhall event was organized by the Faith and Freedom Coalition -- the group formed by disgraced Republican lobbyist Ralph Reed. Common sense might suggest the Romney campaign would keep its distance from such a scandal-plagued figure, but for months, the Republican ticket has done the opposite.
And finally, all of this serves as a reminder of the part of Ryan's persona that's often overlooked: the so-called budget wonk is also a fierce culture warrior.
The perceptions of Ryan in much of the media notwithstanding, Ryan has fought against contraception access; he's worked with Todd Akin to redefine rape; he believes the government should force women impregnated by rape or incest to carry their pregnancies to term; he co-sponsored a "Personhood" measure that would ban in-vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control; and twice voted for a constitutional amendment to prevent marriage equality.
It's with this in record in mind that Ryan tells the religious right that the White House is at odd with "Judeo-Christian" values. The rhetoric is only surprising to those who forget what a culture warrior this guy really is.