SWANTON -- GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan cut a swath through automobile-manufacturing country today with a speech that promised a rejuvenated economy mainly through ending what he sees as a headlong rush to a European-style debt crisis.
He spoke to about 1,000 people at Toledo Express Airport in the morning and a large rally in Oakland County, Mich., in the evening. The appearances were among the last for the Wisconsin congressman before he debates Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, and then Mr. Ryan is scheduled to be back in Ohio the day after his debate, along with GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Inside the chilly Grand Aire aviation service business hangar at the Toledo airport, Mr. Ryan spoke against a backdrop of military veterans who were flanked by World War II military Jeeps and trucks.
"The President is not offering the kind of spirited and principled leadership we need to create jobs here at home or to keep us safe. Because President Obama does not have a good record to run on he has resorted to try and distort ours," Mr. Ryan said.
He first joined the crowd in watching on a large screen a live feed from CNN of Mr. Ryan's speech at Virginia Military Institute before delivering a 33-minute address.
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"What we are witnessing is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy. Four Americans were murdered in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. In a Romney administration when we know that we are clearly attacked by terrorists, we won't be afraid to say what it is," Mr. Ryan said. "And more importantly, we will do what is necessary to prevent that from happening by having a strong military, by making sure that our adversaries do not test us, do not think that we are weak and in retreat.
Mr. Ryan didn't specifically address the auto industry bailout of 2009 that President Obama is touting heavily as evidence of his commitment to securing the middle class. He hit on the nation's rising debt, saying it was driving the United States into a predictable debt crisis that is still solvable if acted on soon enough, and pointed to high youth unemployment in Europe as America's potential future.
He said the Romney campaign has a five-point plan for the economy of promoting domestic energy development, creating new international trade agreements, improving workforce training and education, cutting the budget, and cutting regulations to encourage small business.
He said Toledo is like his hometown of Janesville, Wis., a factory town in need of more jobs.
"On Nov. 6 we are going to elect a leader, Mitt Romney, to deal with this problem," Mr. Ryan said. "We can't keep spending money we just don't have. If we put the key reforms in place, if we run to these problems instead of running from these problems, we can solve these problems on our terms."
In the evening, Mr. Ryan spoke to thousands of people in the Oakland University arena in Rochester, Mich., after first attending a fund-raising event in the affluent, mostly Republican area.
There, Mr. Ryan was introduced by musician Kid Rock, who said, "I'm very proud to say that we elected our first black president. I'm sorry he didn't do a better job."
Born Bob Ritchie near Detroit, Kid Rock said he enjoyed the presidential debate because there were no commercials, no "biased media," and "most importantly, no damned TelePrompters."
"I enjoyed it so much that I think I might throw a keg party for the Ryan-Biden debate," said Kid Rock, who expressed his love of Detroit and said he knows he will alienate some fans by taking a stand politically.
Mr. Ryan spoke about the auto industry, saying a Romney administration focused on domestic energy and a lower corporate tax rate will make America No. 1 in manufacturing again.
"I represent southern Wisconsin. We lost four auto factories in the area I represent in just the last four years. Trust me, I come from Detroit-west. We know we need a healthy auto sector," Mr. Ryan said.
Mr. Romney grew up in Oakland County.
Mike Gillis, communications director for the Ohio AFL-CIO, said Mr. Ryan neglected to give the auto industry bailout that was pushed through by President Obama credit for Ohio's economic recovery. The campaign cites an auto industry-backed study showing that one in eight Ohio jobs have some tie to the auto industry.
"Unemployment has continued to drop in Ohio far below the national average. The rescue of the auto industry was a big part of that," Mr. Gillis said. "Mitt Romney opposed saving the American auto industry and one in eight Ohio jobs. It is clear that Romney's questionable economic decision-making and the extreme ideology of the Romney-Ryan ticket do not match the economic needs of Ohio."
In Toledo, Mr. Ryan was introduced by Ryan Mack, 28, a retired Army sergeant veteran who was severely injured in Afghanistan and who now works as Defiance district representative for U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green).
And he lauded the owner of Grand Aire as a veteran who built his business himself - a favorite Republican line since President Obama said business owners had help in growing their businesses. Zachary Chema, president and chief executive officer of Grand Aire, is a service-connected disabled Marine Corps veteran who served three tours in Iraq and earned the Purple Heart, according to Jim Renda, business development officer for Grand Aire. Mr. Chema's father, the late Tahir Chema, and mother, Katrina, founded Grand Aire in 1984.
Several of those in the audience said in interviews that their confidence in the ticket's chances on Nov. 6 has zoomed since Mr. Romney's debate against President Obama last week.
Tom Siglar, 44, of Genoa, a school bus driver, said he was surprised by President Obama's performance, which was widely perceived as weak.
"He's always a good talker. I noticed he had his head down a few times. He knew he was nailed," Mr. Siglar said. "I think it's probably helped some undecided and swing voters to go Romney's way."
Leroy Madison, 49, of West Toledo, a teacher who is currently not working because of health issues, said he supported Mr. Obama in 2008 but changed his mind because of the stagnant economy and because he "took a liking" to Mr. Romney after reading up on him.
"In four years I would have thought things would have gotten better," Mr. Madison said. "The economy's stagnant. It's just not working. I really feel Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can do something for our country."
Legal file clerk Janet Daney, 54, of Sylvania, file clerk in a law office, said, "I think it's catching fire right now. We need a turnaround and these guys have got a vision."
The historic military vehicles inside the hangar included a Jeep and a truck from World War II as well as a 1960 compact truck built by American Motors from the collection of Tom Price of Bowling Green.
The Obama campaign responded to the Romney foreign policy push by saying that based on his campaign so far, "Mr. Romney fails the commander-in-chief test."
"President Obama has decimated al-Qaeda's leadership, responsibly ended the war in Iraq, is bringing our troops home from Afghanistan, and is standing up to China's cheating," campaign spokesman Lis Smith said.
Mr. Ryan was making his ninth trip to Ohio, a crucial swing state for the Republican ticket. The Romney-Ryan campaign is targeting Ohio heavily this week, the same week that Mr. Ryan is to meet Mr. Biden in a debate on Thursday night at Centre College, Danville, Ky.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will campaign for Mr. Romney in Lordstown, Ohio, on Tuesday. Later in the day, Mr. Romney will appear with Governor Christie in Cuyahoga Falls. On Wednesday, Mr. Romney and Mr. Christie are to appear together at events in the central Ohio communities of Mount Vernon and Delaware. Wednesday night, Mr. Romney and his son Josh will campaign at Shelby County Fairgrounds in Sidney. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are campaigning in Lancaster Friday.
Mr. Obama is campaigning in Columbus Tuesday.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.