Joe Hanel/Durango Herald
Joe Hanel/Durango Herald
FORT COLLINS – With a Powerpoint presentation and a question-and-answer session, Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s visit Wednesday seemed at times more like a college seminar than a campaign rally.
Speaking to a crowd of 1,500 at a lawn mower manufacturing plant, Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman known as a budget wonk, broke out a slide presentation that played on video monitors while he lectured about the debt that he accused President Barack Obama of running up.
Borrowing money undermines national security, he said, adding that both parties share blame for increasing the debt.
“The kind of debt crisis that is now plaguing Europe is right on our horizon,” Ryan said.
Ryan was scheduled to appear in Colorado Springs later Wednesday afternoon as part of Mitt Romney’s renewed emphasis on wooing Colorado voters. Romney was in metro Denver and Colorado Springs on Sunday and Monday.
Ryan pledged that he and Romney would make a positive case for themselves and their ideas, beyond Romney’s main message that Obama has mishandled the economy.
“We are not just asking you to fire Barack Obama because he’s not worth rehiring. We’re asking you to fire Barack Obama because we are worth hiring, because we have better ideas,” Ryan said.
However, he didn’t hold back his criticism of Obama during the question-and-answer session that touched on foreign affairs and energy.
Foreign aid will have to be cut, and the United States should condition its aid to countries such as Egypt on how well they uphold religious liberty, Ryan said.
But he assailed Obama’s planned cuts to the military budget.
“When they propose to gut our military like this administration does, it sends one message and one message alone: weakness,” Ryan said.
One questioner said a lot of Republicans are concerned that Romney won’t be ready to face Obama in their head-to-head debates, which will start next week in Denver.
“Will he be forceful in those debates and take it to Obama?” she asked.
“Of course, he will,” Ryan answered.
The difference between this year and 2008, when Obama also did well in the debates, is that Obama will have to stand on his record as president, Ryan said.
Democrats turned to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet to rebut Ryan. Bennet brought up Romney’s recent comments that 47 percent of Americans who get government benefits won’t vote for him.
“When Mitt Romney wrote off one-half of Americans, that included students, seniors and military serving in our combat zones,” Bennet said in a news release. “While President Obama has stood up for our nation’s veterans and military families, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan simply have not made our veterans and military families a priority.”