LAKEWOOD, Colo. - Paul Ryan, on the stump as Mitt Romney's running mate Tuesday, aimed his fire directly at President Obama. He said the Democratic campaign has to "distort, demagogue, to divide," all to distract from the "real issues" of the campaign.
"He comes to change the tone and culture in Washington," Ryan said to a boisterous crowd at a high school. "And so here's where we've arrived. He can't run on his record. He hasn't changed his tune. So all that he has left is to distort, demagogue, to divide, to try and confuse, to distract you from the real issues of this election."
Tuesday was Ryan's second solo day of on the campaign trail. The enthusiastic crowd at his speech here was in stark contrast to the small but vocal contingent of protesters Ryan saw Monday at the Iowa State Fair.
"We've gone from hope and blame to, from hope and, excuse me, from hope and change to attack and blame," said Ryan, stumbling a bit on a line sure to be heard in his regular stump speech. "But here's what's a little more concerting in my opinion about this. He's speaking to people as if we're divided from one another, not unified. He's speaking to people as if we're stuck in our station in life. Victims of circumstances beyond our control and that only the government is here to help us cope with it."
During his fifteen-minute address, Ryan tried to connect with his audience by recounting past visits to the state, talking about his time in high school in Janesville working at a fast food chain, and empathizing about the high price of gas.
"I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, you know when I was flipping burgers at McDonalds, when I…was washing dishes or waiting tables, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life," Ryan said. "I thought to myself, I'm the American dream…so that I could find happiness however I could find it for myself….that is the American dream."
"We will not let them distract us. We will not let them divide us," Ryan added, referring to President Obama.
Ryan was supposed to be in Colorado this week on vacation with his family, and his staff insisted he was still going, until news broke that he would be Mitt Romney's running mate. He said his family went on vacation without him, and regaled the crowd with stories of his time spent here.
"I've been climbing fourteeners in this great state for over 20 years in this great state," Ryan said to cheers from the crowd. "I have such great memories of jumping in our family wagon in Janesville, Wisconsin, going down I-80 to I-70 and coming out here and enjoying the beautiful Rocky Mountains you have here…fishing for Brookies and rainbow…this is one of the most beautiful states in the country."
Most of Ryan's pitch Tuesday was focused on the top of the ticket, explaining to the audience why Romney is the right man right now.
"The man and the moment have met one another," Ryan said.
The Obama campaign, in a statement, accused Ryan of offering "empty rhetoric" on energy. "The Romney-Ryan budget would make devastating cuts to the President's investments in energy technologies that have expanded domestic oil production, helped put us on track to double renewable energy production, and increased natural gas production to an all-time high," said Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner.