Ryan fires up Republican convention
30 August 2012, 10:40
Tampa - Paul Ryan energised Mitt Romney's White House bid on Wednesday with a scathing take-down of Barack Obama's economic record as he accepted the vice presidential nomination at the Republican convention.
Adding youthful vim and policy vigour to the Romney ticket, the 42-year-old rising star from small town Wisconsin received a standing ovation for his impassioned pitch to American voters 10 weeks from election day.
"I accept the duty to help lead our nation out of a jobs crisis and back to prosperity. And I know we can do this," Ryan said, exhibiting little sign of nerves during his 35-minute speech, by far the biggest of his political life.
Ryan accused Obama of saddling the US economy with four years of failed big government policies and held up Romney, a 65-year-old former Massachusetts governor, as the man to turn things around with his business acumen.
"After four years of getting the run-around, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Governor Mitt Romney," he said.
Romney will formally take up the nomination with his all-important acceptance speech to the convention in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, the climax of three days of rousing addresses by party grandees and rising stars.
Friend of the rich
He lies neck-and-neck with Obama in national polls ahead of a 6 November election that should be the challenger's for the taking, given the sour economy and stubbornly high unemployment.
Romney's vice presidential pick was seen as crucial four years after John McCain electrified conservatives by choosing inexperienced Alaska governor Sarah Palin, only to see her wither in the national spotlight.
Democrats have portrayed Ryan as an extreme, budget-cutting friend of the rich who would gut beloved social programs.
But Republicans have used the selection of the seven-term congressman, whose budget plan is the party's blueprint to fix the flagging US economy, to breathe fresh life into a race that had been in danger of drifting away from Romney.
Ryan took his chance in the convention spotlight to assail the president's record, saying Obama's 2008 promises of hope and change had fallen flat after four years of fiscal recklessness, ballooning debt and joblessness.
"It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new," he said. But now, "they've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left".
Pitch to working, middle classes
"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."
Ryan's mother Betty, wife Janna, daughter Liza, and boys Charlie and Sam took the stage at the end of the speech to the apparent surprise of the vice presidential nominee, who hugged and kissed his family to furious applause.
His address, carried live on cable TV across America at prime time, contained a clear pitch to working class and middle class Americans who may find it hard to identify with Romney's background of wealth and privilege.
"I live on the same block where I grew up," Ryan said. "We belong to the same parish where I was baptised. Janesville is that kind of place."
The Obama campaign had upped the pressure on Romney's running mate in the hours leading up to the speech, releasing a new web video that asked why Americans are so nervous about Paul Ryan.
"Is it his commitment to the failed top-down economics of the past with tax cuts for the wealthiest?" it asked, accusing Ryan of seeking to end the Medicare system for the elderly by introducing a new voucher programme.
'This man will not fail'
Romney wasn't in the Tampa auditorium to hear Ryan's speech as he prepared for his own prime-time address on Thursday.
He took to the stage briefly on Tuesday's storm-delayed opening night of the convention to give his wife Ann a kiss after her well-received speech, which sought to humanise a candidate often seen as stiff and awkward.
She delivered her side of the bargain, blending a targeted pitch to vital women voters with a personal narrative about Mitt that dwelt largely on their all-American love story, their wholesome family and his winning attitude.
"This man will not fail," Ann Romney said. "This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America!"