SWANTON, Ohio -- Republican vice-presidential contender Paul Ryan cut a swath Monday through auto-manufacturing country with a speech that promised a rejuvenated economy, mainly by ending what he portrayed as a headlong U.S. rush to a European-style debt crisis.
He spoke to about 1,000 people at Toledo Express Airport in the morning and a large evening rally in Oakland County, Mich. The appearances were among the last for the Wisconsin congressman before he debates Vice President Joe Biden Thursday night at Centre College in Danville, Ky. He and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney are scheduled to be back in Ohio the day after his debate.
Inside the Toledo airport's chilly Grand Aire aviation service hangar, Mr. Ryan spoke against a backdrop of military veterans 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," he said. "Because President Obama does not have a good record to run on, he has resorted to try and distort ours.
"What we are witnessing is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy," Mr. Ryan said. "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. 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."
He emphasized the nation's rising debt, saying it was driving the United States into a predictable debt crisis, still solvable if acted upon soon enough. He pointed to Europe's high youth unemployment as America's potential future.
Mr. Ryan said the Romney campaign has a five-point economic plan to promote domestic energy development, create new international trade pacts, improve workforce training and education, cut the federal budget and eliminate regulations to encourage small business.
Several in the Toledo audience said in interviews that their confidence in the Republican ticket's chances Nov. 6 had zoomed since Mr. Romney's initial debate last week against President Barack Obama. School bus driver Tom Siglar, 44, of Genoa, Ohio, said he was surprised by Mr. Obama's performance, 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, Ohio, a teacher not currently working because of health issues, said he had supported Mr. Obama in 2008 but has changed his mind because of economic conditions, 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," he said. "The economy's stagnant. It's just not working. I really feel Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can do something for our country."
Mr. Ryan was making his ninth trip to Ohio, a crucial swing state for the GOP ticket. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will campaign today for Mr. Romney in Lordstown, Ohio. Later in the day, Mr. Romney will appear with Mr. Christie in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Mr. Romney and Mr. Christie are to appear together Wednesday at events in the central Ohio communities of Mount Vernon and Delaware.
That same night, Mr. Romney and son Josh will campaign at Shelby County Fairgrounds in Sidney, Ohio. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are to campaign Friday in Lancaster, Ohio.
Mr. Obama is campaigning today in Columbus.
Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Tom Troy is a reporter for The Blade. First Published October 9, 2012 4:00 AM