TAMPA, FL — U.S. Voters got their first real look at Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan Wednesday. Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, delivered his acceptance speech before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, and a nationwide TV audience.
The 42-year old Congressman was little known nationally just a few weeks ago. But he was thrust into the political limelight Wednesday when he formally accepted the Republican Party's vice presidential nomination as Mitt Romney’s runningmate.
Ryan brought Republican delegates to their feet several times with a searing critique of President Obama's economic record.
“It all started off with Greek columns, stirring speeches and the thrill of something new. Now all that's left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday's wind,” he said.
Ryan said if he and Mitt Romney are elected in November they will repeal President Obama's signature health care reform law and will work to trim the nation's $16 trillion debt.
Ryan is a favorite of conservatives and was the author of controversial budget proposals in the Republican controlled House of Representatives that would reform popular social welfare programs like Medicare, the government health care system for the elderly.
Democrats say the Republican plan to reform Medicare would increase costs for seniors, but Ryan says he and Mr. Romney will press the debate as part of a plan to get the country out of debt.
“We will not duck the tough issues. We will lead. 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,” he said.
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There was also a heavy focus in Wednesday's convention program on foreign policy, including a speech from Senator John McCain, the party nominee who lost to Barack Obama in 2008.
McCain criticized the president for not taking a more active role in the conflict in Syria.
“In other times, when other courageous people fought for their freedom against sworn enemies of the United States, American presidents - both Republicans and Democrats - have acted to help them prevail. Sadly, for the lonely voices of dissent in Syria, and Iran, and elsewhere, who feel forgotten in their darkness, and sadly for us, as well, our president is not being true to our values,” he said.
In addition to McCain, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the delegates that Mitt Romney would restore U.S. Leadership around the world if he wins in November.
“Dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their people and threaten regional security. Russia and China prevent a response and everyone asks, where does America stand? Indeed that is the question of the hour. Where does America stand? You see, when friends or foes alike don't know the answer to that question, unambiguously and clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic place,” she said.
The Republican convention will conclude on Thursday when presidential nominee Mitt Romney will give his formal acceptance speech before thousands of spectators in the hall and tens of millions of people watching on television both in the United States and around the world. It is potentially a key pivot point in the campaign and comes amid public opinion polls that show the race between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama remains close.