Did you happen to catch Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention last night? It’s stirring up a lot of emotion and debate! Here at VicePresidents.com, you can watch the full video, read the full transcript, or simply learn about the most salient points from both sides of the table.
Key Quotes from Ryan’s Speech & Why They Matter…
“It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.”
Why It Matters: Ryan’s imagery is vivid — and it reminds on-the-fence audiences of the disappointment they may have felt after 4 years of the Obama presidency.
“So our opponents can consider themselves on notice. In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the Left isn’t going to work. Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program, and raiding it. Ladies and gentlemen, our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will win this debate.”
Why It Matters: Ryan’s confidence shines through, which is important for people who don’t know him yet.
“I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old — and I know that we are ready.”
Why It Matters: Ryan touches upon a classic election talking point that will win cheers every time.
“They have no answer to this simple reality: we need to stop spending money that we don’t have!”
Why It Matters: This statement comes off sensible and appeals to the fiscal conservative base.
“My mom started a small business, and I’ve seen what it takes. Mom was 50 when my dad died. She got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison. She earned a new degree and learned new skills to start her small business. It wasn’t just a new livelihood. It was a new life. And it transformed my mom from a widow in grief to a small businesswoman whose happiness wasn’t just in the past. Her work gave her hope. It made our family proud. And to this day, my mom is my role model.”
Why It Matters: In this touching moment, Ryan becomes visibly emotional when his mother stands for an ovation. Charles Krauthammer said it best, that this part of the speech painted the VP contender as “a nice young man who delivered nonetheless a lethal shot night.”
“Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores— these didn’t come out of nowhere. A lot of heart goes into each one. And if small businesspeople say they made it on their own, all they are saying is that nobody else worked seven days a week in their place. Nobody showed up in their place to open the door at five in the morning. Nobody did their thinking, and worrying, and sweating for them. After all that work, and in a bad economy, it sure doesn’t help to hear from their president that government gets the credit. What they deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that.”
Why It Matters: Ryan attacks a July Obama sound bite where he claimed, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that—somebody else made that happen.” This ill-advised line will likely come back to haunt the President time and time again throughout the coming debates. Obama could run into trouble if the opposition effectively paints his government as waging a “war on success.”
“I learned a good deal about economics, and about America, from the author of the Reagan tax reforms— the great Jack Kemp. What gave Jack that incredible enthusiasm was his belief in the possibilities of free people, in the power of free enterprise and strong communities to overcome poverty and despair. We need that same optimism right now.”
Why It Matters: Older people who have no idea who this young buck is can identify with people like Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. Polls show 1 in 4 people are ambivalent about Ryan and perhaps unsure of where he stands on the issues. So tying himself to a few well-known fiscal conservatives is a great way to win support and establish a reputation as a smart guy.
“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life!”
Why It Matters: This is my favorite line of the night. It really appeals to young people who were excited about Obama’s election, but are now left feeling let-down. It also picks apart one piece of the Obamacare puzzle that has college students covered on their parents’ insurance longer.
“And I hope you understand this too, if you’re feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you. None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers— a dull, adventure-less journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.”
“Listen to the way we’re spoken to already, as if everyone is stuck in some class or station in life, victims of circumstances beyond our control, with government there to help us cope with our fate. It’s the exact opposite of everything I learned growing up in Wisconsin, or at college in Ohio. When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself. That’s what we do in this country. That’s the American Dream. That’s freedom, and I’ll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.”
Why It Matters: Here, Ryan is painting a portrait of the stark contrast between Democrat and Republican visions of government as a battle between Big Government and Small Government. He aligns “the American Dream” with free market Capitalism, small business and his party’s principles — which, I think, is very smart.
“We’re a full generation apart, Gov. Romney and I — and, in some ways, we’re a little different. There are the songs on his iPod, which I’ve heard on the campaign bus and on many hotel elevators. He actually urged me to play some of these songs at campaign rallies. I said, I hope it’s not a deal-breaker, Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC, and ends with Zeppelin.”
Why It Matters: People genuinely like that Paul Ryan is youthful and a “rock n’ roll” kind of guy. The fact that he listens to popular bands like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin makes him more “like us” — more likable. Americans like to find common ground with their politicians and, judging by the rousing cheers, he has done that very effectively in this moment. (It should also be noted the song “Rock N’ Roll” played as Ryan exited the stage.)
“Mitt and I also go to different churches. But in any church, the best kind of preaching is done by example. And I’ve been watching that example. The man who will accept your nomination tomorrow is prayerful and faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best. Not only a fine businessman, he’s a fine man, worthy of leading this optimistic and good-hearted country.”
Why It Matters: There are still some social conservatives that worry about Mitt’s Mormon faith. CNN pundits described it as “one of the last true prejudices in America.” It was wise of Ryan to address a topic that Romney himself does not feel comfortable discussing. (Mitt feels that he shouldn’t have to discuss or defend his religion.) Ryan’s character assessment is important as people still ask the question, “Who IS Mitt Romney?”
“Each of these great moral ideas is essential to democratic government— to the rule of law, to life in a humane and decent society. They are the moral creed of our country, as powerful in our time, as on the day of America’s founding. They are self-evident and unchanging, and sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government.”
Why It Matters: Again, Ryan hammers home his thoughts on small government and makes a comment that has religious conservatives clapping. He really knows how to reach out and connect with the base that Romney had been lacking previously.
“We will not duck the tough issues, we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles. The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us— all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this. We can get this country working again. We can get this economy growing again. We can make the safety net safe again. We can do this. Whatever your political party, let’s come together for the sake of our country. Join Mitt Romney and me. Let’s give this effort everything we have. Let’s see this through all the way. Let’s get this done.”
Why It Matters: The end of his speech was very impassioned, as Ryan shouted out the final lines and kept reiterating, “We CAN do this” to fill the room with the same brand of optimism and confidence that he possesses.
The Other Side of the Coin…
As Wolf Blitzer mentioned, the speech contained a handful of points that fact-checkers will probably want to pounce upon — and they did! From ABC News and the Washington Post to Fox News and The New Statesman, journalists were in attack mode!
ABC News pounced on the Ryan quote: “And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. … So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” The paper argued that Ryan left out the fact that his budget proposal also included cuts to Medicare and a plan that would “expose the elderly to more out-of-pocket costs” than the current plan.
The Washington Post says it wasn’t far of Ryan to say, “[Obama] created a bipartisan debt commission [, the Simpson-Bowles commission]. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” The administration has, in fact, “released a debt plan last September, despite Republicans’ best attempts to pretend it doesn’t exist,” the paper states. They add, “Finally, if the crisis is so urgent, why does Ryan’s own budget proposal not balance the budget until the 2030s?”
Fox News described the speech in three words: “dazzling, deceiving, and distracting.” According to Sally Kohn, Ryan’s speech “was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.” She argues that the downgrade in America’s credit only came as a result of Republican threats not to raise the debt ceiling.
The New Statesman rails on Ryan’s assertion that a Janesville, Wisconsin General Motors plant closed on Obama’s watch (after Obama said the plant would last another 100 years and receive government support.) The paper states: “The plant’s closure was announced in June 2008, over six months before Obama was inaugurated. Ryan probably knows this, because on 3 June, he issued a statement bemoaning the closure.”
Furthermore, the NY Times, CBS, and The Guardian pounced on what they called “flagrant lies.” It’s unusual to see so many mainstream media outlets hoping on this particular angle. You can click here to read the Obama campaign’s official reaction to Ryan’s speech.
Some pundits tend to forget the purpose of a Republican National Convention speech. It’s not to present the facts. It’s not to bog people down with research. It’s not to defend his record. A good convention speech should be compelling, bold, emotional, and unite the party behind the nominee. It should be personal and reveal shared values. A good speech will paint the ticket’s vision of America for audiences and fill in the gaps. Ryan’s speech accomplished all of that. The naysayers and truth-hunters will simply have to wait until the vice presidential debate to attack Ryan’s fact-checking abilities.