Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took the stage around noon on Saturday to a roaring applause with the backdrop of a tranquil Tampa Bay behind him.
The rally in Oldsmar’s R. E. Olds Park was among the campaign's recent push in the battleground state of Florida. Ann Romney appeared in Largo last week. President Barack Obama will be in the Tampa area next week.
Ryan came out strong, wasting no time highlighting what he called President Barack Obama’s failed economic plan. “We don’t need sugar high economics, we need economic growth,” Ryan said to the crowd.
He told the crowd the election would chose what kind of country they would have and what kind of people they would become. “And the question is 'do we want four more year of the same?'" Ryan said.
“Do we want to go down the path of debt and decline or do we want to snap out of it and get this country back on track by electing Mitt Romney the next President of the United States?” he added.
Ryan’s comments were preceded by a "Who’s Who" of the Florida Republican Party, including Congressman Bill Young, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The speakers emphasized the importance of Tampa Bay’s voice in the election. Early voting begins in 17 days.
"We’re going to win Florida because of all you right here today," Bondi told the roaring crowd calling Ryan "a man of great integrity and intelligence."
"Not only does he understand the jobs and economy..." Bondi said. "But he understands our budget."
The budget is what brought out spectators like Kevin Hanson, a married father of three with one on the way.
Hanson, a Westchase resident, said he has been following Ryan for a year on Facebook.
"I understand what the budget is all about and how our entitlement spending has skyrocketed, we need to reign that in,” said Hanson, a federal government employee.
“I’m not saying entitlements are bad some are needed but spend that money wisely, manage it wisely so we can afford a better America,” he said.
Ryan spent much of his time on stage speaking close to the heart of retirees highlighting what he considered flaws in Obamacare.
“You plan your retirement based on your income,” Ryan said. “You have a budget and it’s based on dollars and when they undermine the value of our dollar it wipes out our standard of living.”
"Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank for Obamacare," said Ryan, whose mother Betty was in attendance. "People like my mom organized their retirement based on their income.”
Rally-goer Diane Gale, 59, echoed Ryan's sentiments.
"I think they (Romney/Ryan) have my well being at heart as a disabled person," said Gale, a Palm Harbor resident. "Obama care is just disastrous."
Kurt Irmischer, 72, of Clearwater agreed.
"I believe that this is the most important election in my lifetime," Irmischer said. "Obama's policies have failed us miserably... Internationally, his soft love policies are coming back to haunt us."
To read more coverage of Ryan's visit, check out:
- Ryan hammers Obama on the economy during Oldsmar stop (TBO.com)
- Ryan focuses on economy in Oldsmar (Tampabay.com)
- Ryan in Oldsmar: 'Floridians, you have a huge say in this' (Bay News 9)
- Ryan criticizes Federal Reserve at Tampa Bay rally (WTSP.com)
- Paul Ryan stumps for votes in Oldsmar (MyFoxTampaBay.com)
- Paul Ryan criticizes Federal Reserve (ABCActionNews.com)