Republican vice presidential candidate campaigns in the valley
By Jeb Inge - email@example.com
HARRISONBURG -- It was all economics for Paul Ryan in Harrisonburg on Friday.
The Republican vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin congressman spoke to a crowd of thousands at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, calling for change in Washington and a return to what he called traditional American values.
Amidst a sunny backdrop of hay bales, American flags and hats marked with the word freedom, Ryan praised the scenic beauty of the Shenandoah Valley.
"This is one of the most beautiful places in the country," Ryan said. "I have canoed this area, fished this area, backpacked this area, and my phone has blaze orange and camouflage."
His outlook on the American economy is less optimistic. Ryan cited the recent August jobs report as proof that the Obama administration recovery policy is failing.
"For every person that found a job last month ... four people stopped looking for a job," he said. "This is not what a recovery looks like."
Ryan also attacked the Federal Reserve's recent decision to enter into large amounts of quantitative easing, or bond buying, which it hopes will stimulate economic growth.
Ryan called the Fed's decision, which he described as "sugar high economics," a poor substitute to "pro-growth economics."
"What we need isn't more money printing. What we need is more wealth creation, more job creation and more risk taking," he said.
"Borrowing, spending, regulating, taxing, printing - if all of this worked, we would be entering a golden age along with Greece," Ryan said to laughter.
For Ryan, four more years of an Obama administration would lead to a "welfare state with a debt crisis just like Europe."
His solution: Mitt Romney, who Ryan deemed a "turnaround specialist."
"He is a very successful businessman, and you know what, being successful in business is a good thing in this country," Ryan said in a veiled response to criticism of Romney's involvement in alternative asset management firm Bain Capital.
"We don't resent other people's success, we're proud of it," he said. "We grow the pie, we don't fight over slices of a shrinking pie."
Ryan outlined Romney campaign's strategy for recovery -- the "Romney/Ryan Plan for a Stronger Middle Class," which Ryan calls pro-growth economic policy for an "opportunity society."
The plan, according to Ryan, breaks down into three parts: using domestic energy sources, increasing U.S. exports, and reducing the size of the deficit.
Ryan advocated an increase in domestic energy supply, including coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear power.
"This is a jobs machine. Let's turn it on and let's not have this administration continue to turn it off," Ryan said to rancorous applause.
Ryan also sees increasing U.S. exports as a means for the country to return to economic leadership.
"America was the leading manufacturing country for 100 years until 2010," he said, citing China as the No. 1 exporter of goods.
"This is a country that does a lot of things that aren't necessarily fair, and we have to hold them to account for that," he said.
The third part of the plan - reducing the national deficit - is what Ryan said he considers paramount to American economic recovery.
"We know just as much as night follows day; as the sun comes up tomorrow, that we will have a debt crisis in this country as long as we continue on this path we're on."
Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, authored the fiscal year 2012 Republican budget proposal, "The Path to Prosperity," which passed in the House of Representatives along party lines and failed in the Senate in a 57-40 vote.
That proposal called for massive reductions in federal spending, reforms to federal welfare programs, and the closing of loopholes in the federal tax code.
Ryan also praised small business owners and echoed the "we built it" phrase popular among Republicans on the campaign trail.
"I am proud to stand with a man like Mitt Romney, who knows firsthand that if you have a small business that you built that small business," he said to what may have been the biggest applause of the rally.
The "we built it" mantra being used by Republicans is in response to President Obama saying at a July rally in Roanoke, "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."
Ryan urged the crowd to vote in November, calling this election the most important in generations.
"No matter what generation you are in, this is the most important election in your generation," he said, calling the election a "defining American moment."
Ryan called the election a referendum on the role of government in society. For Ryan and Romney, that role is as a catalyst for individual freedom and deregulation.
Ryan appealed to the crowd's Virginia heritage, quoting Thomas Jefferson and saying that individual rights come from "nature and nature's god, not from government."
"The basic choice is this: do we want to reclaim that American idea; that opportunity society with a safety net, that prosperity society where everybody can make the most of their lives and their god-given potential?" he said.
"The government works for us, and not the other way around."
As of Friday, the Rasmussen Reports' daily presidential poll showed Romney with a lead over Obama, with 48 percent of respondents supporting Romney, to Obama's 45 percent. Two percent of respondents preferred another candidate and 5 percent were undecided, according to the poll.
However, in Virginia, which along with Ohio and Michigan is widely cited as a key battleground state, Obama maintained a 1 percent lead over Romney (49-48) as of Thursday. The poll has a sampling error plus or minus 4.5 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence, according to Scott Rasmussen.