Ryan, first elected to the House in 1998, actually has 10 more years of congressional experience than Obama at the time Obama won the 2008 election. He has also spent the bulk of the last two years at the helm of the House Budget Committee, a committee that includes Connolly among its membership. In his speech, McAuliffe emphasized that "there is a clear choice in this election," and that Obama did "everything he said he would do" during his campaign four years ago. Though McAuliffe honed in on Obama's foreign policy achievements, including ending the war in Iraq and winding down the American involvement in Afghanistan, he did not mention the fact that Obama campaigned on closing the military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. That has not happened. The McLean Democrat received cheers and applause for what he told the crowd next. "He did what George Bush couldn't do. He went and got Osama bin Laden," McAuliffe said. Pivoting toward Ryan, McAuliffe deemed him an "extremist" who is "radical" in his agenda. He claimed that 1 million students and children could lose their Pell Grants for college education under spending cuts detailed in Ryan's budget proposal. The Democrats put the number of cuts at $5.7 trillion, though it's closer to $5.3 trillion over the next 10 years. Targeting women in the audience directly, McAuliffe told them that "Paul Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act," which was the first bill signed into law by Obama in 2009. It allows women a longer period of time to sue for discrimination in the workplace due to their gender. What McAuliffe effectively did with that one line was expose one of Ryan's weaknesses as a candidate: his lengthy number of votes stemming back to the late 1990s. That record will provide plenty of fodder than Democrats will use to make the case against the Republican ticket. Connolly hit Ryan on entitlement spending repeatedly during his speech and in an interview, bringing up Ryan's proposals for dealing with Medicaid, Medicare and his work in 2005 with the Bush administration revolving around setting up private savings accounts from Social Security. The two-term Democratic congressman from a Northern Virginia swing district made safer during the decennial redistricting process called Ryan's Medicare proposal a "voucher program" for seniors in lieu of actual Medicare services, "He is hostile to the entitlement program for seniors," said Connolly when discussing Social Security, adding that what Ryan wants to do is turn Social Security payments into a market-based investment portfolio. Connolly added that millions of citizens "would have negative net values in their portfolios because of what happened to Wall Street" if Ryan's privatization plan came to fruition. A disagreement between Connolly and McAuliffe came from how each of them interpreted the selection of Ryan as a running mate. Connolly deemed the pick of Ryan as "the biggest Hail Mary pass of any game." "He has never worked a day in his life outside of six months" in the private sector, said Connolly. During a separate interview, McAuliffe said Romney is in better shape in the polls at this point in the campaign than McCain was at this time four years ago. "This is not a desperation pick," said McAuliffe. "It's more of an affirmation" of what Romney believes, he said. McAuliffe serves as one of Obama top fundraisers and is planning a run for governor in 2013 after finishing second in the 2009 Democratic primary. He said on Saturday that he would back Democratic Sen. Mark Warner if he sought to reclaim his old seat in the executive's mansion in Richmond but otherwise would make his intentions known shortly after Election Day this November. "I think you'll hear from me directly after that," said McAuliffe. Connolly introduced McAuliffe as the "next governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia" during his speech but, despite earlier rumors, is not likely to run for either lieutenant governor or attorney general himself in 2013.
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