Obama: Ryan is Congressional Republicans’ ‘ideological leader’

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

In his first public remarks about Paul Ryan's pick to be the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, President Barack Obama called the lawmaker "a decent man" but painted him as a champion of "top down" economic policies that favor the rich.

"Just yesterday morning, my opponent chose his running mate, the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress, Mr Paul Ryan," Obama said at the second of five fundraising events in his hometown of Chicago. "I want to congratulate Congressman Ryan. I know him, I welcome him to the race."

"Congressman Ryan is a decent man. He is a family man. He's an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision -- But it's a vision that I fundamentally disagree with," the president said, arguing that Romney and Ryan were standard-bearers for "top-down economics."

Obama's main political vulnerability ahead of the election remains the economy, still sputtering and weighed down by high unemployment of 8.3 percent three and a half years after he took office. The president has argued he will stand up for the middle class, while Romney will help the rich at the expense of everyone else.

At the fundraiser, Obama highlighted private-sector job growth — which has been painfully slow, but steady --- and policies like his rescue of the auto industry, but admitted "we've got a long way to go."

"All of us know friends, neighbors, family members who are still out of work or whose homes are still underwater," he said. "Too many folks are still burdened by enormous college debt. Too many folks still don't have a sense that tomorrow will be better than today."

"So the question in this election is: Which way do we go?" Obama said. "Do we go forward towards a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared, or do we go backward?"

Obama's remarks showed how his reelection campaign will respond to Ryan's elevation: By doubling down on its message, not retooling it.

Vice President Joe Biden welcomed Ryan to the race by telephone on Friday.

And Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod and Republican leaders sparred about Ryan on the Sunday morning news shows.