The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Ryan brings campaign to town
BY CHELYEN DAVIS
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave a base-motivating speech to nearly 3,000 supporters at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center on Tuesday evening, telling the enthusiastic crowd that this election is their chance to help set the nation’s course for the next generation.
Ryan’s appearance came just a few hours before the second presidential debate between his running mate, Mitt Romney, and President Barack Obama. Ryan’s reference to the coming debate drew cheers from the crowd. Polls indicate that the race has tightened since Romney gave a strong performance in the first debate, heartening Romney supporters.
“Virginia, you know how important you are,” Ryan said to the crowd, estimated by a Romney press spokesman at 2,800. “You know you have the unique opportunity and a serious responsibility, because Virginia and a handful of other states will determine the future of our nation. Not for four years but for a generation.”
Ryan used the speech to criticize Obama’s policies, quickly running through topics such as the Affordable Care Act, military budget cuts, coal jobs and business growth that are hot buttons with Republicans.
He blamed Obama for “string after string of broken promises,” and got especially loud cheers for criticism of tax increases that he said could come as a result of the ACA.
“Four years into this, we know we can’t afford four more years,” Ryan said. “We don’t need another round of stimulus spending. We don’t need more government takeover. We don’t need the EPA putting our coal workers out of work. We need jobs, we need growth, we need liberty, we need freedom, we need the government to work for us and not the other way around.”
Ryan referred a few times to a digital debt clock ticking on one wall, saying that Obama has “added more debt than any prior president. In fact, he added nearly more debt than all prior presidents.”
Political fact-checkers have debunked that claim, although their math does indicate the debt has risen more under Obama than it did under the past four presidents individually.
“Our commitment is that we will not duck these tough issues, we will take on that debt clock, we will get this economy growing,” Ryan said.
Ryan said Obama came into office with a poor economy and “made it worse.”
He said he and Romney would expand use of domestic energy—such as coal and oil and gas drilling—avert looming tax increases and stop cuts to defense.
It wasn’t clear whether Ryan was referring to military spending cuts Obama has proposed, or to the additional defense cuts that would kick in in January through the “sequestration” budget-cutting deal that lawmakers in both parties—including Ryan—agreed to last year to cobble together a debt-ceiling deal.
Even lawmakers who supported that debt deal—including Ryan—say they don’t want the sequestration cuts to go forward, and that they voted for them only to encourage lawmakers to reach a different budget deal, which hasn’t happened.
Romney has been vocal in opposing both the military spending reductions and the sequestration cuts.
Ryan criticized them as well.
“The only spending cuts the president seems eager to embrace are those that come at the expense of our fighting men and women,” Ryan said, praising a strong military. “We will not allow these devastating defense cuts to take place.”
He said Romney is “a decisive leader” and successful businessman who created thousands of jobs.
“Being a successful businessman, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that,” Ryan said.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a job creator in the White House?”
Ryan was within the city limits of Fredericksburg, which typically votes Democratic—in 2008, the city went for Obama by 63 percent. The surrounding counties of Stafford and Spotsylvania are more reliably red; in 2008, Republican John McCain won both counties with about 53 percent.
Ryan opened his speech with praise for the Fredericksburg area—its history but also its woods and rivers. He is an avid hunter and has come to Virginia for hunting trips with Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st District, who introduced him at Tuesday’s rally.
More than once he mentioned Virginia’s clout in the election this year.
Obama won the state in 2008, the first time Virginia had gone Democratic in a presidential race since the 1960s. Polls in recent weeks indicated Obama had a slight lead here, but after the first presidential debate, polls started showing a tighter race, both in Virginia and in other swing states.
Both presidential candidates and their running mates have made numerous stops here—Romney is scheduled to hold two rallies in Virginia today, in Chesapeake and Loudoun County. That will be his fifth day in Virginia in about two weeks.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028