By Bernie Becker
Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's new running mate, is a natural heir to the conservatism of the late Rep. Jack Kemp, according to a GOP congressman who served with both.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) wrote this year that, while no one will ever match Kemp's combination of cheerful personality and fierce lobbying for supply-side economics, Ryan (R-Wis.) is "a worthy candidate for the mantle of Jack Kemp's legacy."
"Jack Kemp championed the worth of the individual as the keystone to an American economic renaissance. Paul Ryan's faith similarly arises from his fellow Americans and their willingness to honestly deal with our present day economic reality," Lungren wrote for the Ripon Forum.
Kemp, a longtime House member who was considered for Ronald Reagan's ticket in 1980, was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996.
The New York Republican pushed hard for tax cuts during his time in Washington, and his idea that lower tax rates would spur more economic growth and revenue for the Treasury is now popular in GOP circies.
Ryan, who Romney announced as his running mate on Saturday, included a revenue-neutral tax reform plank in his latest budget, which has similarities to the 1986 tax reform that Kemp worked on. Ryan's budget also includes broad changes to entitlement programs, which are expected to be a central topic in this fall's campaign.
Ryan, a former Hill staffer, has also said, according to published reports, that he was inspired by Kemp to run for Congress. The Wisconsin Republican was also a Kemp speechwriter during the 1996 campaign, and also worked for a D.C. nonprofit that Kemp helped start.
For his part, Lungren served for a decade in the House with Kemp, a former NFL quarterback, and has attended events honoring Kemp since his death in 2009.
"Perhaps hunting deer with a bow and arrow from a tree stand -- Paul's passion -- is not as easily translatable into lessons for life and economics," Lungren wrote. "At the same time it does reveal Paul Ryan to be a genuine example of the best of Americana."