TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With a no-nonsense tone, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan embraced his role as Barack Obama's top agitator — and Mitt Romney's chief defender
Stubbornly high unemployment? Obama's fault. Dispirited Americans? Obama's fault. Even the closed General Motors plant in his beloved hometown of Janesville, Wis. You can guess whose fault that is, too, even though the plant ceased production before Obama took office.
"Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?" Ryan said.
The Wisconsin congressman stepped onto the national stage Wednesday night with a Midwesterner's polite but pointed outrage for a nation whose economy has not recovered quickly enough from the Great Recession. Citing statistics, Ryan comfortably slid into the traditional role of the No. 2 on a presidential ticket.
From the outset of the speech — his highest stakes appearance yet in his political career — he took Obama to task. He gave the Republican faithful and Obama skeptics plenty of reminders that some of Obama's promises of 2008 have come up short.
"It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new," Ryan said. "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 offered praise of Romney and a brief introduction to his story growing up in Wisconsin. But the thrust of Ryan's pitch is that Obama has misled the country and it is time to replace him with Romney.
"President Obama is the kind of politician who puts promises on the record, and then calls that the record," Ryan said. "But we are four years into this presidency. The issue is not the economy as Barack Obama inherited it — not the economy as he envisions it — but this economy as we are living it."