Political analyst Dr. Bob Denton was impressed by Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan’s performance at Roanoke’s Northwest Hardware store Wednesday morning. “It was a strong contrast compared to Biden,” he said. “He’s a good storyteller – relaxed, casual and he related to the audience.” He gave good references to Virginia and Roanoke. His attacks were measured and “he certainly excited the crowd … he’s a natural in terms of speaking,” said Dr. Denton.
Attendee Mark Oliver of Roanoke told The Roanoke Star that Ryan “was a very good strategic [VP] pick because of his economic policy. He’ll bring the country back … we don’t need capitalism destroyed.”
Though Donna and David Gearhart of Smith Mountain Lake were U.S. Senator Marco Rubio fans they were warming up to Congressman Ryan. “I am very optimistic – don’t know a whole lot about him yet,” said Donna Gearhart. They were a bit surprised by the pick. David Gearhart said he was an avid Ryan supporter and that Ryan brings “youth and vigor – he is part of a new breed of politicians coming up.” They both agreed that Ryan understands the fiscal issues the country faces.
Sen. Ralph Smith gave the invocation. Sheriff Octavia Johnson led the Pledge of Allegiance and Virginia Senator Steve Newman and Congressman Morgan Griffith warmed up the crowd. They all built off President Obama’s comment made in Roanoke on July 13th when he said “you didn’t build that” when referring to entrepreneurs and businesspeople who successfully started their own businesses.
The star who was used to introduce Ryan was Radford “Crumb and Get It” business owner Chris McMurray, who gained notoriety when he rejected VP Joe Biden’s advance team when they asked if Biden could visit his business while on his way to Blacksburg. McMurray respectfully declined, saying “it was nothing personal but I just happen to disagree with the President and Vice-President on a few things.”
He said as businesses, “we know what it means to take risks … we represent thousands of small businesses owners – they did build their business.” Government should stay out of businesses said McMurray.
The crowd and Northwest Hardware employees chanted “we built it.” Paul Ryan followed McMurray saying, “when people reach success in our society that’s a good thing.”
Ryan continued – “There’s this guy I’ve known for a number of years—I am going to be talking to him in mid-October—his name is Joe Biden. You might have heard of him. He just said that the middle class is coming back. We got 23 million people out of work – struggling to find work today. Unemployment has been above 8 percent for 42 straight months and the real unemployment rate’s more like 15 percent. He said last summer was going to be the ‘Summer of Recovery.’ It’s a summer later and it’s still worse. They said that the private sector is doing just fine that we need more government. This is President Obama’s imaginary recovery. It’s not here. We have a mountain of uncertainty that is plaguing small businesses. And we have a person, in Mitt Romney, who knows through experience, the challenges that businesses face; how jobs creation works – that the engine of opportunity, the nucleus of our economy is not the government, but the success of small businesses, the entrepreneurs, the people of this country. That’s what makes the American Dream spread and grow for everybody.”
Ryan said, “when we win we will repeal Obamacare.” He blamed President Obama for taking $716 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare, asking, “do you think that is achievement?”
He advocated for using all energy options including the Keystone pipeline held up for environmental reasons and railed against regulations. He advocated for “having a good education system that is parent controlled … for getting people back to work.”
Ryan said, “We have to stop sending jobs overseas … We have to stop spending money we don’t have … We’ve got to get this deficit under control.” Over the years both Democrats and Republicans have put in loopholes that are picking winners or losers through government regulation. “We’ve got to clean that mess up.”
Ryan said: “Thomas Jefferson said it so beautifully – the idea of America is so precious.” He then added, “it was not too late to turn things around. We need leadership now.”
Dr. Denton said that with only 5 percent undecided it is all about getting out the base. He expects campaign ads to become more negative and Virginia will be seeing a lot more of the candidates. “Ryan has the ability to connect with constituents,” said Denton. “There is clearly more substance there than what Sarah Palin brought to McCain’s ticket.” Denton thinks the election is now a base election and creating enthusiasm is key to get each party’s base to the polls.
Denton said the Democrats had tried several strategies that just have not stuck. He didn’t see the abortion issue or Medicare working in their favor. “Ryan has taken the fight to the Democrats on it. The Republicans are winning the frame of that particular issue – Medicare and the taxes and the deficit.”
With only 10 weeks to go until election day it sure is shaping up for an interesting race and Roanokers are getting a front row seat.