RICHMOND, Va. – Framing the coming election as a choice between two paths for the country, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said on Friday that he’s seeking a mandate that he says can break the deeply partisan environment in Washington – an atmosphere that Democrats say he helped create as a leader of House Republicans.
Appearing at a rally here before nearly 2,000 people, the new vice presidential nominee raised the partisanship issue with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., one of his closest friends. But the House Budget Committee chairman said that President Obama was at solely to blame.
“Eric,” Ryan said, addressing Cantor, “this is the most partisan president, most partisan atmosphere we have ever dealt with. Nothing’s getting done because of this partisanship.”
Turning to the voters a few minutes later, he said, “We’re going to give you the choice. You’re going to decide what you want this country to be. We owe you this. And when we earn and deserve victory, then we have the moral authority and the mandate to make it right and get this country back on the right track.”
Ryan has made some attempts to work with Democrats, most notably with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on a proposal to let seniors receive either traditional Medicare or subsidized private insurance. But Democrats say his budget plan – which makes sharp cuts in social programs dear to Democrats — has been a leading source of polarization.
“When it comes to negotiation, I have to say, if you look at Paul's budget, the Ryan budget, it's an uncompromising document,” House Budget Committee ranking Democrat Chris Van Hollen of Maryland recently told Fox News, adding: “I think he was interested in what we have to say. But I think he is so fixed on his own views — and passionate about his own views — that in some ways, it has, I think, blinded him to the facts on the other side.”