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Ryan wows crowd, GOP leaders

TAMPA, Fla. — House GOP leaders say Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “hit it out of the state” in his maiden speech as the official vice presidential nominee.

The leadership team sat together in a sky box facing the stage, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Hill that “it was all good.”

Ryan is getting raves Thursday morning for a speech that lacerated President Obama while touting Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Romney will accept the GOP presidential nomination tonight.

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Lawmakers sitting close to Boehner say the Speaker, who is known for choking up, became teary as he watched the wonky Ryan receive thunderous applause from delegates gathered in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), chairman of the House GOP leadership, said that leaders “were really impressed” by Ryan’s performance.

“[Ryan] hit it out of the state, not just the ballpark. I thought he did a great job, I thought he would do a good job, but he did a great job,” Walden said.

Walden added, “I thought he made the case very effectively that President Obama’s policies have not worked for those who want to get back to work.”

Ryan’s address followed a speech by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who also won over the crowd with a story about her dream of becoming president. Both Rice and Ryan had delegates leaving the Forum on Thursday night wondering if they had seen future presidential candidates.

President Obama’s campaign attacked the Ryan speech for being short on substance and for being misleading.

“Paul Ryan offered Americans 40 minutes of vitriol and a half-dozen previously debunked attacks, but not one tangible idea to move this country forward," Obama campaign deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said.

She said Ryan erred in blaming Obama for an auto plant that closed under the Bush administration and for attacking him for not advancing the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan — which Ryan voted against.

“While hard truths were promised tonight, they never arrived. Congressman Ryan failed to level with Americans about the implications of the Romney-Ryan budget, which funds tax cuts for millionaires by raising taxes on the middle class and makes seniors pay more for their healthcare while limiting access to higher education," she said.

But ordinary delegates on the floor emphasized the personal warmth and youth appeal in Ryan's speech.

Young delegates raved about Ryan's joke that Romney's iTunes playlist consists of elevator music, while he favors AC/DC.

"The best part by far was the iPod stuff," Massachusetts delegate Michael Valanzola said. "I'm 27 and it really connected for me."

Washington delegate Colleen Wise, a grandmother, said for her the tribute to Ryan's mom was masterfully done.

"Magnificent!" actor Jon Voight proclaimed.

This story was updated at 10:11 a.m.

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