Paul Ryan brings fire, Condoleezza Rice brings foreign policy to GOP convention
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave high-profile speeches at the Republican National Convention Wednesday in Tampa, designed to fire up the GOP’s conservative base.
Ryan, a day after being officially nominated for vice president, gave a firey speech that took aim at President Barack Obama’s first-term record.
“What’s missing is leadership in the White House,” Ryan told a large crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old. The man assumed office almost four years ago. Isn’t it about time he assumed responsibility?”
Ryan promised that if he and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are elected, America would experience a “turnaround.”
“So here is our pledge. We will not duck the tough issues, we will lead,” Ryan said. “We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility.”
Ryan saved one of his harshest critiques for Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.”
“Obamacare, as much as anything else, explains why a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close,” Ryan said.
Ryan called the Obama presidency a disappointment for the American people.
“It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new,” Ryan said. “Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at the moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.”
While Ryan focused on domestic issues, Rice, former President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, brought foreign policy into the fold, a rarity in a Republican convention focused on the economy.
Foreign policy is perceived as a strength for Obama heading into November, but Rice did not hold back criticizing the president’s leadership abroad.
“We cannot be reluctant to lead, and you cannot lead from behind,” Rice said.
Rice, who has avoided politics for the most part since leaving office in 2009, was one of the few Bush-era Republicans given a central role in the convention. She offered robust support for the Romney/Ryan ticket.
“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild us at home and they will help us lead abroad. They will provide an answer to the question, ‘Where does America stand?’” Rice said.
Romney was set to give his acceptance speech Thursday evening. The speech might be the most important of his political career, as he seeks to define himself in front of voters as a successful businessman who can turn around a stalled economy before the Obama campaign defines him as an out-of-touch plutocrat who advocates for policies that hurt the middle class.
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