GREENVILLE, N.C. - Paul Ryan delivered a scathing criticism of President Barack Obama's stewardship of the nation's economy Monday, arguing that even conservative punching bag Jimmy Carter's presidency was better as Democrats streamed to North Carolina to nominate Obama for a second term.
"The president can say a lot of things and he will," the Republican vice presidential candidate told more than 2,000 supporters in East Carolina University's student recreation center, about 230 miles east of the Democratic National Convention site in Charlotte. "But he can't tell you that you're better off. Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now."
The message, comparing today's economic problems with the troubled economic conditions of the Carter administration, is part of a broader GOP strategy to ask voters whether they are better off now than they were four years ago. Polling suggests the criticism may resonate with voters who continue to like Obama personally but are frustrated with the pace of economic recovery two months before Election Day.
Democrats argued that conditions have improved since Obama took office, with both the president and Vice President Joe Biden focusing Monday on the administration's 2009 rescue of U.S. automakers, which GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposed at the time. At a union rally in Toledo, Ohio, Obama said the jobs that were preserved help workers enter the middle class while the auto companies symbolize the country's innovative and industrial abilities.
"If that is not worth fighting for, than what is?" he said.
Republicans said Obama was running away from a poor economic record.
"He's run out of ideas," said Ryan. "So that is why he's running a campaign based on envy and division, based on frustration and anger. Hope and change has now become attack and blame."