FT. MYERS, Fla. - Paul Ryan responded to comments President Bill Clinton made Thursday while stumping for President Barack Obama, using them as ammunition aimed right back at his Democratic opponents.
"The president and his allies have said a few revealing things lately," Ryan said at an outdoor rally at a sports complex here. "Bill Clinton said it is true that our economy is not fixed. He is right. … If the economy is not fixed, it is time we change presidents and elect Mitt Romney the next president of the United States."
Earlier Thursday in Cleveland, Clinton said at a rally also featuring Bruce Springsteen, "Gov. Romney's argument is, 'We're not fixed, so fire him and put me in.' It is true, we're not fixed. … When President Obama looked into the eyes of that man who said in the debate, 'I had so much hope four years ago and I don't now,' I thought he was going to cry because he knows that it's not fixed."
Republicans jumped on the comment, but left out the full context.
"What the American people have got to decide is whether they believe, people like who are a little bit on the outside of this, that this is the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression," Clinton added. "It continued for a full year after the president took the oath of office. We were going downhill, he had to stop that, put a floor under it and begin the long road back."
The Obama campaign immediately stood by the former president's comments.
"President Clinton powerfully articulated the progress we're making under President Obama," Obama campaign spokesperson Danny Kanner said in a statement. "As President Clinton noted, we simply can't afford to go back to the same failed policies that brought our economy to the brink of collapse in the first place - and that's exactly what Mitt Romney's offering."
Ryan also hit earlier comments by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that Republicans also have taken out of context.
"On Univision a couple weeks ago, President Obama said he 'can't change Washington from the inside.' Isn't that why we elect presidents?" Ryan asked in front of a crowd of more than 3,500. "Vice President Biden the other day said the middle class is 'buried.' That is one shovel-ready project that this administration can take credit for."
Ryan was referring to a campaign event in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month. Biden stepped on his campaign message somewhat when he said the middle class was "buried" over the last four years, the time in which President Obama has been in office.
"This is deadly earnest: how they can justify … raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years," Biden said, claiming Republicans would raise such taxes. "How in the Lord's name can they justify raising their taxes? We've seen this movie before."
Ryan also referred to a Univision forum last month, where Obama said the "most important" lesson he had learned during his first term as president was, "You can't change Washington from the inside."
Polls are locked between Romney and Obama in Florida, a crucial swing state, and Ryan is spending two days campaigning throughout the state.
He told the supportive crowd that on Election Day, Nov. 6, it's up to their state to make his running mate "the next president of the United States."