By Justin Sink - 10/17/12 05:12 PM EDT
Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that the second presidential debate showed voters the "same thing" as Mitt Romney's consensus win in the first contest against President Obama: "a leader."
"Mitt Romney had a fantastic first debate. He laid out a vision for the country, and we were able to cut through the clutter of all the 30-second attack ads and saw a leader," Ryan said. "Last night, same thing."
"We saw a president not offer a single idea or lesson learned from the failures of the last four years," Ryan continued. "What we saw in it Romney was a leader who has the solutions, ideas on how to turn this economy around."
Later, Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, chided Obama's economic vision, arguing the president had not done enough to explain what he would do to jump start the economy in a second term.
"He basically has one new idea — raise taxes even more," Ryan said. "Raise taxes on successful small businesses so we're taxing at over 40 percent. We are not — our competitors overseas are taxing at 25 percent or less."
Ryan also used the debate to praise his running mate's leadership qualities.
"What history shows is the qualities that make a great leader at this kind of moment are these: A person with a moral compass. A person with a bedrock of principles. A person with a vision for the future and the ability and skills to execute the vision. Ladies and gentlemen, that is Mitt Romney," the Wisconsin lawmaker said. "That is exactly what we saw last night. That is exactly what we saw two weeks ago, and exactly the man we will see on November the seventh."
Unlike the first debate, however, snap polls after Tuesday night's contest about who performed better seemed to give the president the edge. A survey of uncommitted voters by CBS News gave the president a 37 percent to 30 percent advantage, and a similar survey by CNN said Obama won 46 to 39 percent.
But the same CNN poll gave Romney an advantage on the issue of the economy, and that was a theme Ryan hit repeatedly on Wednesday in Ohio, a state he dubbed "the battleground of battlegrounds."
Obama's campaign, meanwhile, said Ryan was in a "tough spot" heralding Romney's debate performance.
"Congressman Ryan was in a tough spot trying to spin Mitt Romney’s rattled, awkward and dishonest debate performance — almost as tough as having to spin the devastating impact Mitt Romney’s plans would have on middle-class families," said Obama spokesman Danny Kanner in a statement. "In the last week, independent fact-checkers and news organizations have concluded Romney’s jobs plan would not create the 12 million jobs he claims, and that his tax plan doesn’t add up — we know he would have to raise middle-class taxes to pay for his $250,000 tax cuts for multimillionaires."
Ryan was introduced Wednesday by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who largely reprised her widely regarded speech from the Republican National Convention in late August. Rice did not comment directly on Romney's debate performance, but said Ohio voters need to "make sure that vision and that leadership and that integrity that we see in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is available to America in these troubled times."