TAMPA, Fla. - Rep. Paul Ryan electrified the Republican National Convention on Wednesday with a blistering indictment of President Barack Obama as he accepted the GOP's nomination for vice president.
Before a rapt audience in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Ryan delivered a speech filled with red-meat attacks on the president's record and mixed in humor, personal anecdotes and praise for Mitt Romney's record.
Obama, he said, had failed on jobs and failed to tackle the deficit.
"College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life," he ripped to roars from the crowd. "Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here 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."
Ryan issued an urgent call to deal with the nation's almost $16 trillion national debt and accused the president of doing nothing about it.
"They've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left," he said.
Ryan said it's time Obama stopped making excuses.
"It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that's left is a presidency adrift. ... The man assumed office almost four years ago - isn't it about time he assumed responsibility?"
Obama, Ryan argued, failed to make job creation his priority and wasted money on the stimulus.
But some of his harshest attacks came on the issue of health care, where he accused the president of engineering a costly takeover that goes against the nation's founding principles.
"Obamacare comes to more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country," Ryan said.
And Ryan criticized Obama for siphoning money from Medicare to pay for it - repeating the Romney-Ryan campaign's counterpunch on the attacks Democrats have repeated for the last year on Ryan's own budget blueprint to remake and slash the long-term costs of the program.
"You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn't have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. ...The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we're going to stop it."
Ryan also sought to personalize his connection with the program in an effort to turn away Democratic charges that he wants to end it.
"In Congress, when they take out the heavy books and wall charts about Medicare, my thoughts go back to a house on Garfield Street in Janesville. My wonderful grandma, Janet, had Alzheimer's and moved in with Mom and me. Though she felt lost at times, we did all the little things that made her feel loved," he said.
"We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it's there for my mom today. Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my mom's generation, for my generation and for my kids and yours."
Posturing on Medicare, he said, would no longer work.
"Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program and raiding it. Ladies and gentlemen, our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will win this debate."
And he accused Obama of doing nothing in the face of the mounting debt.
"They have no answer to this simple reality: We need to stop spending money we don't have. ... And I'm going to level with you: We don't have that much time. But if we are serious and smart and we lead, we can do this."
Ryan also spoke warmly of Romney, praising his experience in business and with the Olympics and his tenure as governor of Massachusetts. But he had the audience laughing when he joked about their different iPod playlists.
"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 said.
But Ryan said that while they are different people from different backgrounds, he and Romney share a vision for the future and a commitment to face up to the nation's problems.
"We will not duck the tough issues, we will lead," he said. "We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles.
The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us - all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this."
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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