Paul Ryan convention speech: "Democrats' 'moment came and went'" - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Paul Ryan convention speech: "Democrats' 'moment came and went'"

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By Juana Summers
For POLITICO.com

TAMPA, Fla. — Paul Ryan delivered an energetic indictment of President Barack Obama's presidency on Wednesday here, saying that "all that's left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that's already passed."

Debuting before a national audience in a Wednesday prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention, the 42-year-old Wisconsin lawmaker drew sharp contrasts with the incumbent while reaching out to the independent voters who may not know much about the new vice presidential nominee.

"Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What's missing is leadership in the White House. And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old. The man assumed office almost four years ago — isn't it about time he assumed responsibility?"

The Obama campaign, Ryan charged, is "desperate to keep power."

"They've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left," he said. Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee, Ryan said, is a person who "can't be dragged down by the usual cheap tactics" because his "ability, character and plain decency are so obvious."

As Ryan finished his speech, his wife, Janna — who campaigned with Ann Romney earlier today — and their three children took the stage, along with the congressman's mother, Betty. Mitt Romney, however, was not in the house, watching from a hotel room in Tampa instead.

The GOP ticket, Ryan argued, would confront the most difficult issues facing the country head-on and take responsibility for its mistakes.

"We will not duck the tough issues; we will lead," he said. "We will not spend four years blaming others; we will take responsibility."

Ryan didn't hesitate to quickly embrace Romney, mentioning him twice within the opening minutes of the speech and a total of 12 times during his remarks here.

Ryan's challenge here was twofold. Though a well-known and polarizing member of Congress, Ryan is unfamiliar to many voters, according to polls taken since he joined his party's ticket. And his plans for an overhaul of Medicare have made him a conservative hero but are a catalyst for criticism on the left, so part of his task is explaining his budget reform plan.

But the congressman also played plenty of offense.

Ryan attacked Obama's health care law as a "long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care," drawing boos from the audience. A group of restive protesters identified as Code Pink attempted to interrupt Ryan's speech at that point but were quickly drowned out by supporters who chanted "USA."

Ryan — as he did when a woman attempted to climb on stage with him at the Iowa State Fair soapbox during his first solo campaign event — didn't miss a beat.

"Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country," he said, charging that the "biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare" came at a high cost for America's seniors.

As Ryan finished his speech, his wife, Janna — who campaigned with Ann Romney earlier today — and their three children took the stage, along with the congressman's mother, Betty. Mitt Romney, however, was not in the house, watching from a hotel room in Tampa instead.

The GOP ticket, Ryan argued, would confront the most difficult issues facing the country head-on and take responsibility for its mistakes.

"We will not duck the tough issues; we will lead," he said. "We will not spend four years blaming others; we will take responsibility."

Ryan didn't hesitate to quickly embrace Romney, mentioning him twice within the opening minutes of the speech and a total of 12 times during his remarks here.

Ryan's challenge here was twofold. Though a well-known and polarizing member of Congress, Ryan is unfamiliar to many voters, according to polls taken since he joined his party's ticket. And his plans for an overhaul of Medicare have made him a conservative hero but are a catalyst for criticism on the left, so part of his task is explaining his budget reform plan.

But the congressman also played plenty of offense.

Ryan attacked Obama's health care law as a "long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care," drawing boos from the audience. A group of restive protesters identified as Code Pink attempted to interrupt Ryan's speech at that point but were quickly drowned out by supporters who chanted "USA."

Ryan — as he did when a woman attempted to climb on stage with him at the Iowa State Fair soapbox during his first solo campaign event — didn't miss a beat.

"Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country," he said, charging that the "biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare" came at a high cost for America's seniors.

"A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare for my mom's generation, for my generation and for my kids and yours," he said. "So our opponents can consider themselves on notice. In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the left isn't going to work."

While he spoke directly to the Medicare issue that affects America's seniors, Ryan also underscored both sides of the generational divide in the Republican Party. He looked youthful on stage tonight, underscoring the fact that Ryan is closer to the age of Romney's five sons than to the man at the top of the ticket.

"We're a full generation apart, Gov. Romney and I. And in some ways, we're a little different," he said. "There are the songs on his iPod, which I've heard on the campaign bus and on many hotel elevators. He actually urged me to play some of these songs at campaign rallies. I said, ‘I hope it's not a deal-breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin.'"

Ryan and Romney may be "a generation apart," he argued, but they're not different in "any of the things that matter."

The House Budget Committee chairman also underscored an economy that he argued has been particularly devastating for recent graduates.

"College graduates should not have to live out their twenties in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life," he said. "Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the where and now."

"And I hope you understand this, too: If you're feeling left out or passed by, you have not failed; your leaders have failed you," he said.

Ryan also mentioned his differences with Romney on religion — something Romney rarely discusses on the campaign trail.

"Mitt and I go to different churches, but in any church, the best kind of preaching is done by example, and I've been watching that example," he said. "The man who will accept your nomination tomorrow is prayerful and faithful and honorable."

Earlier Wednesday, he mixed it up with the Wisconsin delegation at a Beer and Brats event outside the Tampa Convention Center. Joined by his wife, Ryan dropped in on a crowd of several hundred, telling them they're part of a "story of cheesehead domination."

"We're doing these rallies all across the country and people are coming out of the woodwork with their cheeseheads all over America," he said. "It really is a story of cheesehead domination."

The scene was a true homage to Ryan's home state, with a polka band playing in front of a massive stage and ornate spreads of cheese and bratwurst — and of course, beer — throughout the room.

"I've got to give this speech later on today so I'm going to keep it brief, rest my voice," he said. "But we could smell the brats down the street so Janna and I just wanted to come by and say thank you so much, it's great to see you and go Packers, all right? Have a good one! Have a beer on us!"

Juana Summers is a reporter for POLITICO.com. POLITICO and ABC News 4 have partnered for the 2012 presidential campaign cycle.

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