Mitt Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Monday accused President Obama of failing to lead the nation out of its economic slump, and vowed the GOP ticket would not dodge issues such as jobs and the mounting federal debt if they win in November.
"We are not going to duck the tough issues and kick the can down the road. We are going to lead," Ryan said to nearly constant applause in a send-off rally in his home town of Janesville, Wis., just a day before Republicans are expected to nominate the Romney-Ryan ticket in Tampa.
"We are not going to spend the next four years blaming other people for problems," he said. "We are going to take responsibility."
"That's not the government's job," Ryan said. "The government's job is to set the conditions for economic growth so it can grow the pie for everybody."
He also recounted Obama's election-time comment that people in the Midwest like to "cling to their guns and religion."
"All I gotta say [is]… this Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud of that," Ryan said. "That's freedom."
Ryan also referenced Obama's controversial comment to small-business owners that "you didn't build that," which the president made while speaking about government spending on infrastructure.
"They don't need their president telling them that the government gets the credit," he said. "They need to know that we know that they built their businesses and they get the credit."
Ryan said this year's election is critical because it gives Americans a chance to choose a different path from the one Obama has set the country on, which Ryan said has led to persistent high unemployment and soaring deficits.
"This is a defining moment for our country. We have a big choice to make. We're not just picking the next president for a few years. We are picking the pathway for America for a generation," he said.
"We've seen what the president has offered. We've seen the path he has placed us on. It's a nation in debt, it's a nation in doubt, it's a nation in decline. Or we can choose a better path: re-apply those founding principles, reclaim the American idea, get people back to work and get the American idea of prosperity and opportunity society back on track, and that's exactly what we're going to do."
Ryan also contrasted Obama with Romney, saying that Romney has experience turning businesses and other organizations around.
The GOP vice presidential pick took the stage in front of a deeply sympathetic crowd that included scores of people in Ryan's extended family and community, and Ryan said several times how humbled he was by the crowd. About six minutes in, Ryan's remarks were interrupted by protesters, but they were quickly drowned out by Ryan supporters who chanted "USA, USA."
"That's right," Ryan said, cheering on his supporters. After the protesters were silenced, he said, "Sounds like we just went to state, doesn't it?"