NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Paul Ryan got to the politicking immediately.
Standing in Cleveland Browns country, the Green Bay Packers fan walked a delicate line today hours before the two teams were to square off in pre-season play.
“I think you got a good quarterback. This guy was great at Oklahoma State,’’ he said of Browns draft pick Brandon Weeden, speaking to a friendly crowd of about 1,700 at North Canton’s Walsh University, an independent Catholic school.
And then Republican Mitt Romney’s new running mate got to the real business at hand.
“We are at the proverbial fork in the road,” he said. “We can see what [President Obama’s] ideas produce. Turn on your TV. Look at Europe. Let’s not go down that path. We can do this. We can turn this thing around. We can get people back to work. We can be proud to give our kids the kind of future they deserve. We can get this done. We need Stark County. We need Ohio.”
Between Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, the GOP ticket has campaigned in the all important battleground state of Ohio three days this week, focusing primarily on friendly Republican territory to the south. In his first campaign visit to northeast Ohio, Mr. Ryan went to Stark County, competitive territory.
It’s part of a newly revamped 16th Congressional District that pits two incumbents against each other — U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci, a Republican from nearby Wadsworth, and Betty Sutton, a suburban Akron Democrat. On paper this district is Republican, but polls have shown the two incumbents to be locked in a dead heat.
Mr. Obama was in nearby Akron just two weeks ago.
Mr. Ryan picked up where the top of the ticket left off Tuesday night in Chillicothe when a clearly angry Mr. Romney came out swinging at Obama campaign tactics.
“President Obama clearly inherited a very difficult situation,’’ Mr. Ryan said. “There are no two ways about that. The problem is he made things much worse. President Obama’s run out of ideas. That’s why his campaign is based on frustration and anger. That’s why he’s not coming with new ideas. He’s giving us more of the same, and he’s going to resort to distortion. He’s going to resort to fear and smear.’’
Mr. Ryan’s selection by Mr. Romney has only escalated the Medicare war of words. As Mr. Obama has attempted to tie Mr. Romney at every opportunity to Mr. Ryan’s House-passed budget and its proposed program cuts, Mr. Romney has pointed to Mr. Obama’s proposal to cut $716 billion from the Medicare budget to help pay for the President’s signature health care reform law.
“We didn’t hear one shred of truth from Paul Ryan in Ohio today...” Obama campaign spokesman Jessica Kershaw said. “He hits President Obama for $700 billion savings in Medicare, but that was in his own bill, and he is just trying to hid the fact that he and Romney want to turn Medicare into a voucher system.”
“He talks about getting tough on China, yet he voted to repeal help for American workers, hurt by unfair trade practices, opposed barring government contracts for companies that shift American jobs overseas, and declined to crack down on China’s currency practices,” she said.