- By Kyle Harvey
- Published: October 23rd, 2012
Republican vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan came out swinging against President Obama Tuesday, Oct. 16, campaigning before a large crowd at Automated Conveyor Systems (ACS) on Millrace Drive in Lynchburg.
Ryan strolled onto the stage from a black SUV, stepping to the beat of AC/DC’s “Rock ‘N Roll Train.” Estimates from several sources place the crowd size between 1,000 and 3,000 people.
After commenting on one cheese-head-wearing fan and even jokingly responding to a chorus of women declaring their love for him, Ryan quickly got down to business.
Economic concerns were the crux of the address. Ryan cited the dismal state of the economy as being a product of the poor policy of the Obama administration.
“We know without a shred of doubt that this country is on the wrong path,” Ryan said. “This is not even refutable. (Obama) can’t run on the fact that the economy is barely limping along, slower this year than last year, and last year was slower than the year before that. And so, because he can’t run on his record, hope and change has now become attack, defame and blame.”
Echoing the rallying cries of many Tea Party conservatives, Ryan attacked the president’s economic record and called for lower taxes on small businesses like ACS.
“When the Canadians lowered their tax rate to all of their job-creators to 15 percent — when the international tax rate average on our competitors is 25 percent, and President Obama is promising that the top tax rate on these successful small businesses goes above 40 percent in January — guess what happens?” Ryan said. “When we tax our job creators a lot more than our foreign competitors tax theirs, they win, we lose, and we can’t stand for that.”
The Five-Point Plan
Moving forward to the Republican plan for the economy, Ryan spoke on the Romney-Ryan Five-Point Plan for economic recovery. First on the agenda under the plan is North American energy independence, something that Ryan said can be achieved by building the Keystone Oil Pipeline from Canada into the U.S. as well as by reducing regulation on resources that exist within our own borders.
The second phase of the plan consists of reigniting the manufacturing industry and foreign trade — namely exports — which Ryan argues is essential to a healthy economy.
The fourth point Ryan addressed, which drew the largest crowd response, was the issue of debt and deficit spending.
“We have got to stop spending money we just don’t have,” Ryan said. “We have a moral obligation to preserve the American dream, not only for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren. That’s why we have to get this debt and deficit under control and balance the budget.”
Ryan’s relentless attack on the Obama administration’s record continued into the fifth talking point on foreign policy. Defense budget cuts and the sluggish response to the recent embassy attack fueled much of Ryan’s fire.
“What we are witnessing is the projection of weakness, and that projection of weakness emboldens our adversaries and scares our allies,” Ryan said. “We believe the best way for us to keep peace here at home, to keep prosperity overseas, is to engage in a doctrine we call ‘peace through strength,’ and that means you don’t gut your military, the strongest military in the world.”
The remainder of Ryan’s time was devoted to a personal pitch for his running mate, Mitt Romney. To Ryan, it is Romney’s background in private sector business that qualifies him for leadership.
“Do you know what Mitt Romney did? He was a successful business man, and by the way, there is nothing wrong with that,” Ryan said. “Being successful in business is a good thing — we want people to be successful. We don’t look at one another’s success with envy or resentment. We’re proud of the fact that American workers take risks, work hard and help others.”
Ryan discussed upward mobility within the classes as well as the merits of hard work and effort.
“We can grow together, we can rise together. The American idea is a society where if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead,” Ryan said. “We believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.”
In his closing, Ryan appealed to the Virginia audience’s knowledge of the forefathers, promising to stay true to what he called the nation’s founding principles.
“Look, this is Virginia,” Ryan said. “Of all people who understand the founders, it is Virginians. Thomas Jefferson said it the best: our rights come from nature and nature’s God, not from government … You will not see us try to transform this country into something it was never intended to be … you will not see us try to replace our founding principles, you will see us reapply our founding principles.”
Local government officials on hand for the event came away very pleased with Ryan’s performance.
“He definitely is hitting on the message that I hear from my constituents, which is, ‘We need jobs, we need to grow the economy, we need to reign in out-of-control government spending and balance our budget,’” Congressman Bob Goodlatte said.
Virginia State Delegate Scott Garrett weighed in after Ryan’s energetic speech.
“I think Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both get it, that our faith values do matter,” Garrett said. “There are too many people that are trying to define our values for us — two of them are seated in the White House, and that’s not right.”
Despite what the elected officials say, whether Ryan and Romney have done enough to win over the younger demographic that came out strong for Obama in 2008 remains to be seen.
“I think that they’ve certainly reached out to the 20-somethings to say, ‘You matter, this is your generation,’” Garrett said. “They talk about $16 trillion in debt. It’s not Scott Garrett’s debt. I’m 56 years old. It’s our 20-somethings’ debt.”
Liberty students react
Although not an overwhelming number, there was a solid showing from the Liberty student body at the event. Reviews of the speech were generally positive.
“As a Christian, the Bible says that the borrower is servant to the lender, and so we don’t want (the Obama administration) to pass the bill to the next generation of Americans,” Liberty graduate student Christian Collins said. “I think (Ryan’s) five-point plan is what we need here in America.”
For some students, a live appearance in Lynchburg offered a better view of Ryan than watching the televised vice-presidential debate.
“I just wanted to get a more personal idea of what Paul Ryan was all about,” Liberty law student James Johnson said. “I mean, I’ve seen him on TV, but I just wanted to see him in person, see how he interacts with the public and the crowd and see how much support he could raise.”
Numerous Liberty students expressed enthusiasm about their support of Ryan and his remarks.
“One thing that really makes me respect (Ryan) and respect Romney is that they don’t want to just kick the can down the road, they want to deal with the issues,” Liberty student Jared Delello said.
For students like Joe Rosasco, the rally was the first major political event they had ever taken part in.
“The environment was kind of country — small, down to earth,” Rosasco said. “Everybody definitely came out here with a positive attitude. No one was negative.”
Rosasco and his group of friends managed to work their way right in front of the podium to hear Ryan’s message.
“I don’t understand how someone could look at the facts and not vote for them,” Rosasco said. “The media is even recognizing that they are just doing exactly what they need to be doing. They’re stating the facts.”
“He’s very personable with people,” freshman John Barrows, who was in Rosasco’s group, said. “I got to shake Paul Ryan’s hand, and it was a good, firm, solid, manly handshake.”
Taking part in politics for the first time kindled patriotism among the newcomers.
“I think it had a lot of American pride, support for our country and support for just the election,” freshman Katie Kohle said of the rally. “I think it’s really important to get educated on who you’re voting for and who you’re supporting.”
While it would appear that the Romney-Ryan ticket has won over a sizeable majority within the Liberty community, students expressed doubt that the Republicans have been able to sway their generation as a whole.
“I think we are a tough demographic,” Johnson said. “I have to be honest, I think (Obama) pretty much has us country-wide. I think he has the 20s pretty much locked down.”
The nation will make its decision in two weeks on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
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