Bounding onto a stage in a Rosslyn Farms steel mill, Rep. Paul Ryan twirled a Terrible Towel and beamed as the crowd took the cue and chanted to a Heinz Field cadence, "Here we go Ryan, here we go."
In his first campaign stop in Pennsylvania, the GOP vice presidential choice criticized President Obama and pledged that a Romney administration would tame the federal deficit and restore the nation's prosperity.
A week before the opening of the convention that will officially ratify him as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's running mate, the Wisconsin congressman echoed his new partner's mantra that the president was trying to impose a government-centered economy that wold undermine private enterprise.
Mr. Ryan spoke on a makeshift stage in front of a truck with a large coil of steel. Behind, it, the GOP organizers had decorated the wall of the plant with the words, "We did build it," their running taunt at a quote from President Obama, in which he noted the role of community and government in creating the conditions for business success.
"Tony, you built this business," he said to Tony Treser, the president of Beaver Steel Services, the plant where he was speaking.
Playing on another of Mr. Obama's comments from a speech four years ago, Mr. Ryan drew cheers when he said, "I'm a Catholic deer hunter, I am happy to cling to my guns and my religion."
Mr. Romney's choice of the House Budget Committee chairman as his running mate lifted the profile of Medicare and entitlement spending in a race previously dominated by a debate over the pace of the economic recovery. Mr. Ryan renewed the GOP attack on the administration health care legislation as he complained that "President Obama treated Medicare like a piggy bank in funding Obamacare... Medicare should be there for Medicare and not for Obamacare."
He referred to the fact that the health care legislation cuts $716 billion from the anticipated rate of growth in Medicare spending with the cuts coming from fees to health care providers. He did not mention that fact that he has sponsored two House budgets that take the same amount from the growth of the seniors' health care program as a means of controlling the deficit.
As more than 1,000 GOP partisans headed to the event, Democrats were outside, staging a counter event denouncing the GOP proposals.
They included County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, and Jack Shea, the president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, who joined in the message that it was the Republican plans that were a threat to the economy.
Politics Editor James O'Toole: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1562. First Published August 21, 2012 5:00 PM