Tampa, Fla. — Paul Ryan introduced himself to the nation as Mitt Romney’s running mate Wednesday, accepting the Republican vice-presidential nomination with a speech that focused on the economy, with sharp pokes at President Obama and Democrats “desperate to keep their power.”
“After four years of getting the runaround, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Gov. Mitt Romney,” said Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman who has established a conservative following as a deficit hawk.
Ryan, 42, promised a cheering crowd that he and Romney would lead the nation to a healthy economy.
“We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years,” Ryan said.
Connecticut delegate Ann Brickley of Wethersfield said she respects Ryan because he’s been urging reforms of Medicare and other entitlement programs.
“He’s an expert in policy,” said Brickley, the party’s congressional nominee in the 1st District in 2010. “Medicare as we know it is going to go away.”
Ryan is a conservative on social as well as fiscal issues, but some of the moderate Connecticut Republicans expressed relief he focused on the economy, jabbing at what he called the Obama administration’s wrong-headed stimulus effort.
“This election is not about social issues, it’s about the economy,” said Brickley, the owner of a small management consulting firm. She participated in a business roundtable discussion with Romney earlier this year.
Ryan’s vow to “preserve Medicare” — his plan would save money by giving seniors vouchers, an idea Democrats say would destroy the health program for seniors — and to end “Obamacare” drew strong cheers.
But his call for Obama “to assume responsibility” was the greatest crowd pleaser.
John Downey, a Republican town committee member from Redding, praised Ryan for “his broad knowledge of economic issues that are confronting our country.”
“Just like Mitt Romney, he’s a problem solver,” Downey said.
House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk praised Romney’s selection of a congressman with budget expertise as a running mate, drawing a comparison with John McCain’s choice four years ago of Sarah Palin, who was little-known outside Alaska.
“Four years ago the choice was Sarah Palin and nobody knew who she was,” Cafero said. “It almost took on a circuslike atmosphere, and unfortunately nobody got to really know her substance. There are a lot of people who know this man. He’s a young man, but he’s really done a lot in Congress.
Despite his respect for Ryan’s gravitas, Cafero said, “There may be some social issues we’re not in agreement on.”
Ryan, the House Budget chairman, is best known for his budget that would slash social programs, while maintaining military spending. He is a favorite of the Tea Party. But the Romney campaign has been distancing itself from Ryan’s plan, saying the presidential nominee will set economic policy.
Democrats have attacked Ryan for his fiscal blueprint and will try to link Republican candidates to some of its most controversial proposals. The Democratic National Committee took out a full-page ad in The Tampa Tribune Tuesday accusing Ryan of trying to “end Medicare as we know it” through his Medicare voucher proposal.
Ryan avoided mention of his controversial budget, sticking to broad economic themes and introducing his wife, young children and mother to the nation. He called his mother, who became a small business owner as a widow, his role model.
“Join Mitt Romney and me, let’s give this effort everything we have,” Ryan said.