COLORADO SPRINGS–Just hours before the president takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention, Paul Ryan attempted to counter Obama’s speech by reminding voters in this battleground state of then candidate Obama’s promises in his 2008 speech in Denver.
“Right here in Colorado, four years ago with the Styrofoam Greek columns, the big stadium, the president gave this long speech with lots of big promises,” Ryan said. “He said … that Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress. By those very measurements, his leadership has fallen woefully short.”
He’s not the only Republican candidate who’s referred to Obama’s Denver speech; Romney mentioned that before his own convention speech, he looked at Obama’s ’08 speech.
Ryan acknowledged that the president “can give great speeches,” but says Obama “can’t tell you [that] you are better off as a nation.”
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Ryan’s speech to a few thousand at an aviation company here was heavy on new criticism of his Democratic opponents. He glanced more at his notes and read off them more than he usually does as he told the crowd he doesn’t want the choices in the ”campaign to be the lesser of two evils” and “that’s what President Obama is doing.”
He also brought up the DNC platform’s back-and-forth on Wednesday about including a mention of the word “God.” Initially it was omitted, but the language was added back in with a floor vote that had plenty of delegates voicing their disagreement.
The president is going to be in Charlotte tonight with the Democratic convention,” Ryan said. “Their convention actually began with a tribute to big government. They actually said government is the only thing we all belong to. Then, they cut references to God out of their platform. They reserved course on that one yesterday – it wasn’t really a popular reversal if you watched it on TV.”
He repeated a mention from Politico’s Jim Vandehei on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday morning that the Democrats “were against God before they were for him.”
Ryan also mentioned his direct opponent, Joe Biden, and reporting from Bob Woodward’s new book, “The Price of Politics,” that if the vice president had Obama’s job he’d be doing the contentious debt ceiling debate negotiations “totally different.”
“It was just reported that in the middle of President Obama’s debt ceiling negotiations last summer, Vice President Biden said, quote, ‘You know if I were doing this, I’d do it totally different. ‘ Sounds like Joe and I finally agree on something,” Ryan said to cheers.
One thing Ryan did not mention directly is Bill Clinton’s scathing criticism of him during his speech to the DNC Wednesday evening. “When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as the ‘biggest, coldest power play,’ I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Clinton said in his speech in Charlotte. “Because, that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that he had in his own budget.” Clinton added, “You got to [admit] one thing — it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”
It was one of the most well received lines of the night, but Ryan’s only — and it was slight — acknowledgement Thursday was his continued critique of Obama and his claim that the president “took $716 billion out of Medicare to fund Obamacare.”
As Clinton mentioned, Ryan did include those same cuts in his signature budget plan — the same plan Mitt Romney has said he would sign if he becomes president — but Ryan says he was forced to build his plan on those cuts because they were already signed into law. The $716 billion in cuts do not affect benefits for today’s seniors. Instead, they reduce provider reimbursements and are intended to curb waste, fraud and abuse.
Ryan’s plan has come under attack from Democrats because it would fundamentally change the plan, essentially making it a voucher program that critics say could cost senior citizens more, but the GOP vice presidential candidate says his plan is the only way to save Medicare from going completely bankrupt. The Obama campaign responded to Ryan’s claim, saying Clinton “put it best last night: the Romney-Ryan ‘arithmetic’ just doesn’t add up.”
“Mitt Romney and Congressman Ryan would raise taxes on the middle class, turn Medicare into a voucher system, and slash critical investments in education and infrastructure to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And they have provided no details about how they would reduce our debt, while independent economists have said that their plan would do nothing to create jobs now,” Obama spokesperson Danny Kanner said.