Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proclaimed today that his running mate is Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a firebrand Republican who gained wide popular acknowledgement for his spirited criticisms of the Obama administration’s health reform package and deficit spending. Governor Bob McDonell of Virginia warmed up the exultant crowd at Virginia Beach who gathered at a dock where the mothballed USS Wisconsin is berthed. The Romney campaign announced the selection on August 10.
Stepping down from the USS Wisconsin, Romney bounded to the dais and acknowledged the flag-waving crowd. He announced his decision to name Ryan as his running mate, saying that Ryan is not content to “curse the darkness” but to light candles, presumably in Washington. Offering a vision of domestic policy in a Romney administration, Romney said that he would offer “positive” solutions in a country where he said that 1 in 6 Americans are living in poverty. Moving on to health policy, Romney did not mention his own foray into the issue as governor of Massachusetts, but did say that he would repeal “Obamacare” while preserving Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
The former governor of Massachusetts lauded Representative Ryan as a “man who gets things done,” while crediting his roots in the Midwest for “integrity that is unquestioned.” Romney also noted that Ryan is a “faithful Catholic” committed to the culture of life who “appeals to the better angels of this nation.” After issuing a stream of accolades for the Wisconsin congressman, Romney made a gaffe while winding up his introduction. In the coda of his speech, Romney introduced Ryan as the “next President of the United States.”
Ryan thanked Romney, but then offered a chance for the presidential candidate to rectify his remarks. Romney returned to the stage and admitted that he “makes mistakes” and said that he made no mistake in choosing Ryan as his running mate.
Ryan assured the crowd that Romney is the “man for this moment” who can restore “the greatness of this country,” in which President Obama managed to get the majority of his initiatives, such as Obamacare, passed in Congress. The United States, said Ryan, is facing “debt, doubt and despair,” as well as the “worst poverty rate in a generation.” All of this is to be solved by a Romney administration, said Ryan, even while he admitted that Obama had inherited a serious problem from the previous administration.
The Wisconsin politician, who has been in Congress for the last 14 years, offering appeals to American exceptionalism. “We are on an unsustainable path that is robbing America of its promise,” said Ryan while also saying that a Romney administration “won’t blame others; we will take responsibility,” in what was seen as a slap at the Obama administration’s repeated allusions to the failures of the George W. Bush administrations. Appearing to set Republican values at par with basic American values, Ryan said “We will not replace our founding principles; we will apply them.” “We provide equal opportunity,” said Ryan, “not equal outcomes,” threby setting himself distinctly at odds with the left or progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
The crowd reaction to Ryan was loud and strong, appearing at times to outweigh the reception given to Romney himself. The wonkish Ryan gave stirring remarks that were red meat for many in the crowd, who included military veterans and Tea Party types,
Ryan’s rhetoric reached an apogee when he said that “Our rights come from Nature and God, not government. That’s who were are,” after tweaking Obama over the current chief executive’s assertion that entrepreneurs were not alone in making themselves successful. Finally, Ryan said “We can get this done,” which are words surely to be repeated in the coming months before November as the Romney campaign scrambles to give the lie to critics who have noted Romney’s tardiness in naming a running mate, as well as his gaffes on the campaign trail.
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