Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says voters have a clear choice in this November’s election: continue President Barack Obama’s record of “debt, debt and decline” or get America back on track.
In a 20-minute speech to party faithful at the Westlake Recreation Center Tuesday afternoon, the Wisconsin congressman criticized Obama’s record on the economy, particularly his stimulus package and health reform program, which has become known as “Obamacare.”
“Let’s be very candid. President Obama inherited a difficult situation when he came into office,” Ryan acknowledged.
“Here’s the problem. He made things worse,” Mitt Romney’s running mate said to loud applause.
Saying that Obama cannot run on his record, Ryan alleged that the president was attacking Romney and running a campaign based on “envy and division.”
In recent days, the Romney campaign has taken to asking a question Ronald Reagan asked in his successful 1980 campaign to defeat incumbent president Jimmy Carter: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
Ryan told his Westlake audience that Obama’s record on the economy is worse than Carter’s. The unemployment rate in July of 1980 was 7.8 percent, Ryan noted, adding that it’s been above 8 percent for 42 months under Obama.
“When it comes to jobs, President Obama makes the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days,” Ryan said. “If we fired Jimmy Carter then, why would we rehire Barack Obama now?”
A heckler started yelling When Ryan spoke about Standard and Poors downgrading the federal government’s credit rating for the first time in the nation’s history, a heckler began yelling. The crowd started shouting him down with chants of “USA, USA!” The unidentified man was led out of the rec center by a Westlake police officer but not arrested.
Romney has been a successful leader in the business sector and as governor of Massachusetts, Ryan told the crowd, estimated at 2,200.
“We do not envy people who are successful. We take pride in people who are successful,” Ryan said, adding that a record of achievement in business is something Americans should want in a president.
Ryan also played on the theme that Obama is a big government liberal intent on permanently changing the fabric of the nation.
“Our rights come from nature and God and not the government.” Ryan said to huge cheers. That was the idea American was founded on, and even a president needs to be reminded of that, he said.
“We will not try to replace our country’s founding principles,” Ryan said. “We will not try to transform American into something it was never intended to be.”
If Romney is elected president, Ryan said the new administration would pursue creation of energy-related jobs, improve job-training program for unemployed workers, lower the tax rate for small businesses and stop spending the government doesn’t have.
Bob Modzell, who wore a Tea Party T-shirt and waved an American flag during Ryan’s talk, came from Mentor-on-the-Lake to see the vice presidential candidate.
The Schwebel Baking Company employee told West Life he’s a big Romney supporter even though he’s a Teamster.
The biggest issue in the election, Modzell said, is to get government spending under control and lessen regulations on small businesses.
Westlake resident Dave Trudel called Ryan’s talk “very inspiring.”
The retired Alcoa employee told West Life the biggest issues for him are getting the economy back on track and reducing the federal deficit, which was $1.3 trillion in fiscal year 2011.
The last four years it’s been totally out-of-control spending,” Trudel said.
Mike Gillis, a spokesman for the Ohio AFL-CIO and an Obama supporter, also attended the speech. He shared his opposing views with West Life and other journalists cover Ryan’s appearance.
“There’s a long way to go with the recovery,” Gillis acknowledged. But he said the country is overall better than when Obama took office. Romney and Ryan want to take America back to the policies that created the current economic mess, he said.
“The real question is, ‘Is Mitt Romney better off than he was four years ago?’” Gillis said, referring to calls by Romney’s opponents for the former Massachusetts governor to release more than two years of tax returns.
Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough was among the local Republican politicians who warmed up the crowd before Ryan took the stage.
“In Westlake, we believe in balanced budgets, low tax rates and good management of taxpayer dollars,” Clough said.
Clough said by those policies and by maintaining an atmosphere favorable to the business community, Westlake has fared better than most in the recent tough economic times.
“By the way, we still have our AAA bond rating. Unfortunately, American does not,” Clough said, referring to Standard and Poors August downgrade of the nation’s credit rating. Standard and Poors said an agreement between the Obama administration and Congress had not gone far enough in controlling the government’s debt burden. The agency also was critical of the political brinkmanship related to the last-minute deal to raise the debt ceiling. Westlake has a AAA bond rating from Standard and Poors and Fitch.
“Now is the time to provide the same kind of conservative policies and favorable, business-friendly environment for or country that we enjoy here in Westlake,” Clough said. “This will be one of the way that the Romney – Ryan team will turn the direction of our great nation around and guide it back to the right track to prosperity, where anyone who wants a job can find one.”
Clough called on attendees to work hard for a Romney-Ryan victory.