Ryan: Florida to decide 'what kind of country we're going to have'

David Albers/Staff
-  Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan speaks during a campaign stop on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers.

Photo by DAVID ALBERS, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

David Albers/Staff - Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan speaks during a campaign stop on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers.

Scenes from Paul Ryan rally

Estimated 3,600 in attendance.

SOUTH FORT MYERS — As twilight descended on a humid evening, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan promised leadership in the White House while warning of fiscal calamity if President Barack Obama receives another four years in office.

Speaking to an estimated 3,600 supporters at a field behind Hammond Stadium on Thursday, the Wisconsin congressman kept his 20-minute discussion strictly focused on the economy, government spending and entitlement programs, the hallmarks of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign against Obama.

“We’re not just picking a president for four more years,” Ryan said. “We’re deciding what kind of country we’re going to have and who we’re going to be for a generation. And guess what? Floridians, you can make that determination.”

Behind a sign reading “we can’t afford four more years” of Obama, Ryan, jacket-less and clad in a blue shirt and yellow tie, rallied the crowd waving small American flags and signs for the GOP duo. He often referenced the economic plight of Europe, and offered that the U.S. might be headed down the same road without a change in leadership.

“We have challenges, really big challenges, and the problem is, if you don’t face your problems as a nation, they just get worse,” Ryan said. “If you just keep kicking the can down the road, it just gets worse. That’s exactly what’s happening in Europe.”

Ryan and Romney have crisscrossed Florida in recent weeks, working for the state’s coveted 29 electoral votes. The congressman came Thursday from a morning rally in Ocala and attended a private fundraiser at Old Collier Golf Club, where he raised about $1.2 million.

The fundraiser audience was filled with prominent Republicans, including Romney’s former business partner Bill Bain, one-time ambassador to the Vatican Francis Rooney and former ambassador to the Bahamas John Rood.

Before his introduction to the public, a procession of local dignitaries and GOP political candidates preceded Ryan. They were followed by brief introductions from comedian Dennis Miller, an occasional speaker for the ticket, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a prominent surrogate who has traveled the country in support of Romney and Ryan.

“In Congressman Ryan’s career, he has already demonstrated more leadership than Obama and (Vice President Joe) Biden put together in the last four years,” Bondi said. “He will protect Social Security; he will protect Medicare; he will balance our budget — everything he’s been working to do in Congress.”

Ryan’s commitment to tackling the looming fiscal insecurity of social programs like Medicare and Social Security drew roars from the crowd, although he didn’t specifically address future plans for how to reshape those liabilities.

“When these problems come up, we’re not going to run away from them,” Ryan said. “We’re not going to blame other people. We’re going to fix these problems so that these promises are there for our seniors, for our generation and our children’s generation.”

After Ryan’s appearance, the Obama campaigned attacked Romney’s tax plan, saying it won’t create jobs and would instead raise taxes on the middle class to pay for “tax cuts for the wealthiest.”

“We simply can’t afford to go back to the same failed policies that brought our economy to the brink of collapse in the first place — and that’s exactly what Mitt Romney’s offering,” a campaign spokesman said in a statement.

Ryan supporters created a half-circle around the stage Thursday, weathering heat and humidity for a sight of the vice presidential candidate. They included Bonita Springs residents Calvin and Robin Carter, owners of the Southwest Florida small business Hole In One Golf Carts. Under Obama, the couple said, low economic confidence has made it difficult to obtain financing for their business, and employees are forced to get by with less.

“My business could be a lot stronger if we had a government that really understood what it takes to build a business,” Calvin Carter said. “People have to believe they have a future that’s going to be better, and when they aren’t believing it, they sure aren’t out spending.”

Fort Myers Beach part-time resident Gary Van Enkenvort, who also lives in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin and donned a Green Bay Packers hat Thursday, said he has been inspired by Ryan’s selection.

“He’s intelligent; he understands numbers and figures, and he’s not like a Joe Biden,” Van Enkenvort said.

Missing from Ryan’s speech was any talk about foreign policy or social issues, topics important to North Naples resident and Collier Republican Club member Matt Wedlock.

“I think we’re going to start hearing more about them after all these debates,” Wedlock said. “I’ve just become ashamed of our foreign policy.”

The swing through Southwest Florida is the first for Ryan since late July, when he came in support of former staffer and U.S. House candidate Chauncey Goss.

From Fort Myers, Ryan travels Friday to Daytona Beach, where he’ll meet up with Romney. Romney and Obama are scheduled for their third and final debate Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton.

Information from a pool report was used in this article

Information from a pool report was used in this article.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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