Ryan's Focus On The Economy Pleases Mass. Delegates

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Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday. (AP)
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday. (AP)

For many delegates here at the Republican National Convention, Wednesday night was their first introduction to Rep. Paul Ryan, the conservative favorite and Mitt Romney's running mate.

Ryan gave the convention its most electric moment so far when he stepped out onto the stage Wednesday. The Massachusetts delegates were no different from the rest of the crowd in their wild enthusiasm. Part of the reason for that is that Ryan, like Romney, promises to emphasize not the social issues that have often divided New England Republicans from the rest of the country, but the economy.

In his speech, Ryan blamed the tepid recovery from the crash in 2008 on President Obama.

"And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old," Ryan said. "The man assumed office almost four years ago. Isn't it about time he assumed responsibility?"

Repeating one of the themes of the Romney campaign and of this convention, Ryan lauded small-business owners.

"Nobody did their thinking and worrying and sweating for them," Ryan said. "After all that work, and in a bad economy, it sure doesn't help to hear from their president that government gets the credit. What they deserve to hear is the truth: 'Yes, you did build that.' "

Ryan pointed out the generational difference between himself and Romney.

"I said, 'Look, I hope it's not a deal-breaker, Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin.' "

The speech was all about the economy. This was the closest Ryan came to even hinting at a social issue: "Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and likeness of the Lord of life."

That Ryan stayed away from social issues was a good thing for Amy Carnevale, a delegate from Marblehead.

"I think they respect other points of view on the life issue, which is important in our state, but I know their focus will be on the economy and jobs," Carnevale said.

For Kim Roy, one of the highlights was when Ryan blamed the economy on the president.

"And I agree with Paul Ryan," Roy said. "It's time for the Obama administration to take full responsibility for this economy."

After the speech, people jostled for chauffeur-driven SUVs outside the convention hall. Standing like an island of stability in the flowing crowd was former Gov. William Weld, receiving greetings from well-wishers.

Weld said he knew very little about Ryan. He had been rooting for Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, to become Romney's running mate, but he was happy with Ryan's speech.

"I loved it," Weld said. "There's a definite Boy Scout element, and he did appear a different generation. He appeared younger, but he's so trenchant in his analysis that at the end of the day he doesn't really present as young, even though his manner is very young."

For Weld, one of the highlights of the speech came when Ryan praised small-business owners.

"I'm susceptible to the counterattack on the 'God damnit, we built that!' issue. So every time somebody says that, I light up, because I think it's a disaster for the president," Weld said. "He based it on a campaign speech by Elizabeth Warren in the Massachusetts Senate race."

The Massachusetts delegation had looked with great anticipation to Ryan's speech. He did not disappoint.

And they're very excited about having someone many have known for years accepting the presidential nomination Thursday night.

This program aired on August 30, 2012.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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