NORTH CANTON, Ohio -- On his second day campaigning in Ohio as Mitt Romney's new running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday accused President Obama of undermining Medicare, going easy on trade-cheating China, and spending the nation into ruin.
"We are at the proverbial fork in the road," the Wisconsin Republican told a friendly crowd of about 1,700 at Walsh University, an independent Catholic school in North Canton.
"We can see what his ideas produce," he said. "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."
Between Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, the Republican ticket has campaigned in the all-important battleground state of Ohio three days this week, focusing primarily on GOP-friendly territory to the south. In his first campaign visit to northeast Ohio, Mr. Ryan went to Stark County, which is more competitive territory.
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 around 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 war of words over Medicare. As Mr. Obama has attempted at every opportunity to tie Mr. Romney to Mr. Ryan's House-passed budget and its proposed changes to Medicare, Mr. Romney has pointed to Mr. Obama's proposal to cut $716 billion from the Medicare budget to help pay for his signature health-care reform law.
Mr. Ryan directly linked the Obama cuts with reduced benefits for seniors, even though they would be in the form of cuts in payments to Medicare service providers.
"We didn't hear one shred of truth from Paul Ryan in Ohio today," said Jessica Kershaw, an Obama campaign spokesman. "He hits President Obama for $700 billion in savings in Medicare, but that was in his own [budget] bill, and he is just trying to hide 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 ship American jobs overseas, and declined to crack down on China's currency practices," she said.
Mr. Ryan said China steals U.S. intellectual property, blocks access to its markets, and manipulates its currency to undermine American products.
"President Obama said he would stop these practices," Mr. Ryan said. "He said he'd go to the mat with China. Instead, they're treating him like a doormat. We're not going to let that happen. Mitt Romney and I are going to crack down on China cheating, and we're going to make sure that trade works for America."
Mr. Ryan recalled growing up in Janesville, Wis., as he turned the subject to one that Mr. Obama believes works to his advantage in Ohio: the auto industry.
"We used to have a big General Motors plant," Mr. Ryan said. "A lot of my high school buddies worked at that GM plant. That GM plant was shut down in 2009. I remember President Obama visited when he was first running, saying he would keep that plant open. One more broken promise.
"We used to build Tahoes and Suburbans," he said. "One of the reasons that plant got shut down was $4 gasoline. You see, this costs jobs."
Mr. Ryan voted for a bill that would have provided billions for automakers in 2008 when George W. Bush was president. When the bill failed in the Senate, Mr. Bush appropriated money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for banks, and later Mr. Obama expanded that to billions more.
Since emerging from bankruptcy with the help of federal financial help, Chrysler has announced plans to expand its Toledo plant and add another work shift.
GM actually announced its plans to close the Janesville assembly plant in 2008, when Republican George W. Bush was still president.
"With each passing day it's becoming more and more clear the Romney-Ryan campaign playbook is nothing more than trying to hide the truth of their terrible records and vision from the people by distorting the truth and launching false, out-of-context attacks," said Ms. Kershaw of the Obama campaign.
President Obama is expected to be back in the Columbus area on Tuesday, the campaign announced.
Sara McGuire, a resident of nearby Alliance, Ohio, was in Thursday's crowd. The retiree said she has found Mr. Ryan to be "passionate" and "compassionate," despite the picture Democrats have painted of him and his budget.
"Republicans are being attacked for being mean-spirited, having a war on women, not caring about the poor, and all that," Ms. McGuire said. "It's a myth. He's passionate about Americans, about getting jobs, which is the main thing, and getting our economy back on track. He's not going to end Medicare. … I'm going to turn 65 in December. I'm not scared."
Between his speech in North Canton and flying out of Youngstown for Virginia, Mr. Ryan stopped at the Original Hot Dog Shoppe in Warren, introducing himself by his first name to patrons and ordering a hot dog, chili, cheese fries, and iced tea.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.