Paul Ryan, a hero to conservatives and lightning rod for Democrats, accepted the Republican nomination as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, saying the moment for President Barack Obama’s Democrats “came and went”.
Ryan’s speech on the second day of the storm-shortened Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, was a debut of sorts for the 42-year-old congressman from the midwestern state of Wisconsin.
Though a leader on budget policy in congress, Ryan was not well-known outside Washington when picked by Romney this month.
The selection of Ryan, author of a plan to reduce the government deficit, excited Republicans sceptical of Romney’s commitment to conservative principles. But Democrats pounced, saying Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was now clearly wedded to Ryan’s proposals to cut spending by revamping healthcare programmes for the elderly and poor.
To the adoring cheers of the Republican faithful, Ryan said Democrats “have run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division is all they’ve got left.”
He said Romney would not duck the difficult decisions needed to repair the economy. “After four years of getting the runaround, America needs a turn-around, and the man for the job is governor Mitt Romney,” he said.
Romney and Ryan were formally nominated in roll call votes on Tuesday. Romney was to accept his party’s nomination last night, the third and final full day of the convention.
But he may find Ryan a tough act to follow. His speech was part attack on Obama, part spirited testimonial to Romney, all leavened by a loving tribute to Ryan’s own mother.
Ryan’s youthful energy and down-to-earth appeal stands in contrast to the stiffer, more aristocratic Romney, 65.
Still, so far Ryan has not changed the dynamics of the presidential race. Polls continue to show Romney and Obama in a statistical tie ahead of the November vote.
Obama, campaigning before a university crowd in Virginia, declared himself unimpressed with the Republican convention.
“You can listen very carefully, very hard, and you won’t hear them offer a clear serious path forward,” he said.
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