GREENVILLE, N.C. Paul Ryan delivered a scathing criticism of President Barack Obama’s stewardship of the nation’s economy Monday, arguing that even conservative punching bag Jimmy Carter’s presidency was better.
“The president can say a lot of things, and he will,” the Republican vice presidential candidate told more than 2,000 supporters in East Carolina University’s student recreation center. “But he can’t tell you that you’re better off. Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now.”
The message, comparing today’s economic problems with the troubled economic conditions of the Carter administration, is part of a broader GOP strategy to ask voters whether they are better off now than they were four years ago. Polling suggests the criticism may resonate with voters who continue to like Obama personally but are frustrated with the pace of economic recovery.
Democrats argued that conditions have improved since Obama took office, with both the president and Vice President Joe Biden focusing Monday on the administration’s 2009 rescue of U.S. automakers, which GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposed at the time.
Republicans said Obama was running from a poor economic record.
“He’s run out of ideas,” said Ryan. “So that is why he’s running a campaign based on envy and division, based on frustration and anger. Hope and change has now become attack and blame.”
Before leaving Greenville, Ryan told an overflow crowd of about 700, “After another four years of this, who knows what it’ll look like then. We’re not going to let that happen.”
On Monday, Romney relaxed with his wife at their lakeside estate in New Hampshire, taking a midmorning boat ride to fuel his 29-foot Sea Ray and pick up a Sea Doo jet ski that needed repairs.
Romney will spend much of the week in New Hampshire and Vermont preparing for three fall debates with Obama, the first on Oct. 3.
Ryan will play a more prominent role in day-to-day campaigning during the week. After visiting in North Carolina on Monday, he was scheduled to campaign Tuesday in Ohio and Iowa. Visits to Colorado, California and Washington state also were being planned.
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