The book’s title was bold, and its authors intended to outline a bold future.
As “Young Guns” went on sale two years ago, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took center stage on its cover, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in the foreground of the iconic photo taken on a Capitol balcony. More toward the back was Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the policy wonk whose star had yet to shine as brightly as those of his two 40-something friends.
Yet on Wednesday night, as Ryan strode to the podium to accept the Republican Party’s vice presidential nomination, his two longtime friends were far from the stage. They were in a suite overhead at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, watching as Ryan moved into an undisputed role: top gun among the Young Guns and a future leader of the GOP. His biggest asset? Boldness.
Cantor, once whispered about as a potential Mitt Romney running mate, is in the background this week at the Republican National Convention, where the focus has been on touting governors and female politicians to try to expand the party’s appeal. His allies and advisers say that is fine with Cantor, who is genuinely excited for his close friend Ryan. But his role out of the spotlight follows a finely designed effort in Cantor’s camp to reshape his image, which was battered throughout 2011, his first year as House majority leader.