U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the newly chosen GOP vice presidential candidate, used his first appearance in the Akron area Thursday to talk tough on trade, promising to level the playing field between the United States and China.
Ryan said China has treated President Barack Obama "like a doormat."
"We need trade that works for us," he told a crowd of about 2,400 at Walsh University. "We will crack down on China cheating."
Ryan also talked up his running mate, praising Mitt Romney for his business background, helping to turn around the Salt Lake City Olympics, and working with Democrats when he was Massachusetts governor to balance the budget without raising taxes.
"It's the kind of experience you want to have in Washington," he said.
Ryan's North Canton appearance followed an event he held Wednesday at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, his alma mater.
Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, will next travel to Richmond, Va., for a fundraiser, according to a campaign spokesman.
He drew a crowd not just from Stark County but also from other nearby counties. Pat Lanzer and Noreen Weisenburger came from Homeworth in Columbiana County.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Weisenburger said. "I wasn't going to miss that."
She said Ryan "knows his stuff" and it doesn't hurt that he has "beautiful blue eyes."
Stark County Commission Janet Creighton, the former Canton mayor, helped pump up the crowd before Ryan took the stage, saying that women will be key to the success of the Romney/Ryan ticket.
"We are not the stamp lickers and envelope stuffers of the past," she said. "We are the doers, we are the donors and we are the leaders."
U.S. Reps. Bob Gibbs and Jim Renacci, both Ohio Republicans, had high praise for Ryan.
"Paul Ryan is a super guy," said Gibbs. "I really like him. He's got guts."
Renacci, a freshman congressman, said he was happy to learn when he first began serving with Ryan on the House Finance and Appropriations Committee that he "had vision, had a plan and was committed to making sure to take the country in a different direction."
"We need plans, we need ideas, we need solutions," he said. "We need Romney and Ryan in the White House!"
Ryan tipped his hat to Gibbs and Renacci when he began his 21-minute speech, saying they "came to Washington to fix what was broken." He said voters have a clear choice in November - to either stick with the current path of "debt, doubt and decline" or reapply the basic Democratic principles and "save the American ideal."
Ryan said Obama "inherited a difficult situation. The problem is: he made it much worse." Now, he says, Obama's campaign is resorting to "distortion, fear and smear."
Echoing comments he made in Oxford on Wednesday, Ryan said the campaign is excited to debate Obama on Medicare. He said the president would take money from Medicare to pay for the federal health care law.
"Boo!" the audience yelled.
"You think this is an achievement?" Ryan asked.
"No!" the crowd responded.
"Neither do I!" Ryan said.
Ryan said he and Romney would "protect and strengthen Medicare, keep it in tact for seniors and save it for the next generation."
Ryan said they also would create 12 million jobs in the country, including 452,000 in Ohio "if we get the economy to grow like it should." He said energy opportunities in Ohio need to be tapped.
"Let's use our own energy," he said, getting a standing ovation and big cheers. "It's common sense!"
Ryan finished by pledging that the campaign "will not duck the issues. We will lead. We will not blame others. We will take responsibility."
"Together, we can get this done," he pledged.
The crowd included both older and younger supporters of Ryan. Ryan Wise of Wadsworth, who will soon start at Ohio University, said he likes Ryan's financial know-how and "how he can manage a budget." He thinks his addition to the ticket made Romney "more marketable."
Les Seidner of Salem said Ryan is honest and young, while his wife, Jan, added "smart."
"He tells it like it is," Les said.
Chris Maloney, a spokesman for the Romney campaign in Ohio, called Stark a "battleground county" and predicted this will be among many visits before the Nov. 6 election.
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