ADEL, Iowa – Rep. Paul Ryan on Wednesday professed interest in former President Clinton’s upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention -- because he predicted it will merely point out flaws in President Obama’s record.
“My guess is we will get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we’re not going to hear much about how things have been the last four years,” Ryan said as an audience of several hundred Republicans in this town west of Des Moines chuckled appreciatively.
“And by the way, under President Clinton, we got welfare reform … which moved people from welfare to work to get people out of poverty. President Obama is rolling back welfare reform. President Clinton worked with Republicans in Congress to have a budget agreement, to cut spending. President Obama -- a gusher of new spending and only demagoguery from those of us who have offered solutions,” Ryan said, offering up a familiar Republican attack -- deemed false by multiple fact-checkers -- that claims Obama gutted the work requirement from welfare reform. The new policy gives states more flexibility in meeting the requirements of the Clinton-era law.
In response, Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner painted the Romney-Ryan campaign as dealing in falsehoods. “In Iowa, Congressman Ryan repeated Mitt Romney’s welfare lie, but couldn’t say how they’d create a single job now,” Kanner said. “While the congressman has proven his willingness to ignore the truth, even he should know that President Clinton has joined with every independent fact checker, news organization, and a Republican architect of welfare reform in calling the welfare attack blatantly false.”
Ryan also attacked Obama for the size of the national debt, which hit the $16 trillion mark on Tuesday, and said the country is “in decline.”
“We know what the last four years has brought us. We are a country in doubt. We hit 16 trillion dollars of debt.” Ryan said. “That’s a country in decline. We have a clear choice. Are we going to stay on the path that President Obama has placed us on or are we going to turn this around, win this election and get the country back on the right track?”
Talking up Iowa, Ryan said he was “kindred spirits” with people who also come from a state that farms corn and soybeans. During his second campaign stop since being announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate, Ryan sought to build local credibility by mentioning that his mother-in-law hails from the eastern Iowa city of Clinton, and his grandfather attended Loras College in Dubuque.
He got a rousing introduction from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who recalled Ryan's performance at a meeting of top Republicans and the president at the White House in February 2009, at which he said Obama was belittling Republican ideas.
“When Congressman Ryan got done with telling his view of what the president wanted to do on health care reform, he shattered the president so much and shocked the president so much that the president had no comeback on Congressman Ryan,” Grassley said. “So you understand, you understand we gotta fight, we got a guy that’s going to take it to them.”
Grassley hasn’t always expressed the same fondness for Romney. After Romney voiced opposition to a wind energy production tax credit set to expire at the end of the year that enjoys broad bipartisan support throughout the country, Grassley reportedly told a town hall meeting in August: “I felt it was just like a knife in my back, as the author of the bill, without even being consulted about it.”
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