Programs like Social Security and Medicare have long been considered the “third rail” of American politics. Anyone who dared discuss changing them was headed toward electoral defeat. During his speech accepting the Republican nomination for vice-president, Paul Ryan sent a loud signal that he has no fears about the dreaded third rail.
“A Romney-Ryan Administration with protect and strengthen Medicare for my mom’s generation, for my generation and for my kids and yours. So our opponents can consider themselves on notice,” Ryan said. “In this election, on this issue , the usual posturing on the Left isn’t going to 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 in this debate.”
Ryan’s 37 minute speech picked up steam in the middle as he went on the attack against the Obama administration. He was interrupted dozens of times by applause, and often times extended, raucous ovations. One of the biggest came during his criticism of Obama’s handling of the economy.
“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,” Ryan said
Ryan spent much of his speech praising Romney’s life story and business experience. He also laid out the Romney/Ryan administration’s plans: repealing Obamacare, keeping federal spending at 20 percent of GDP or less, and putting “hard limits” on the size of government. However, the most memorable lines were aimed directly at Barack Obama.
“You know, President Obama was asked not long ago to reflect on any mistakes he might have made. He said, “Well, I haven’t communicated enough.” He said his job is to, quote, “tell a story to the American people”. As if that is the whole problem here? He needs to talk more and we need to be better listeners?
Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years, we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What is missing is leadership in the White House.
And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old. The man assumed office almost four years ago. Isn’t it about time he assumed responsibility?”
Ryan also managed to add some levity to the speech, discussing his differences with Governor Romney in their taste in music:
“We are a full generation apart, Governor Romney and I. And in some ways, we are different. There are the songs in his Ipod, which I have heard on the campaign bus…and I have heard it on many hotel elevators.
He actually urged me to play some of these songs at campaign rallies. I said, “look, I hope it is not a deal breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC and it ends with Zeppelin.”
It was a speech that ranged from fiery to funny, hard-edged to sentimental. Ryan got choked up at one point while talking about his mother. The vice-presidential nominee hit all the key points he needed to. He praised his running mate, hammered the opposition, riled the crowd and came across knowledgeable and likeable to the viewers at home.
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