Romney, Ryan campaign ‘to change Washington’ at rally outside Charlotte

jfrank@newsobserver.comAugust 12, 2012 

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HIGH POINT, NC - AUGUST 12: Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory (R-NC) laughs as he shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), while Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) (2R) are introduced during a campaign stop at the Absolute Style furniture factory on August 12, 2012 in High Point, North Carolina. Romney and Ryan continue on the second day of a 4-day bus trip that will take Romney to 4 key swing states, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, and also to Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

SARA D. DAVIS — Getty

— Mitt Romney introduced running mate Paul Ryan to a crowd of Republican faithful outside Charlotte on Sunday morning, saying he has the “ideas to get America back on track.”

Standing in front of a race car with his name on it, Romney offered a broad vision of his potential presidency, throwing plenty of partisan lines to a capacity crowd of 1,700 but offering few specifics about how he would accomplish his promise of 12 million jobs.

“I selected this man to be running mate because I want to change Washington,” Romney said. “I don’t want to be like Europe; I want to be like America.”

The presence of Ryan, a seven-term Wisconsin congressman picked Saturday as the GOP vice presidential nominee, added a layer of hype to Romney’s first significant campaign tour in North Carolina, a key battleground state.

“I feel like I’m in Woodstock,” said Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory as he warmed up the crowd.

About 1,000 onlookers gathered outside the doors to the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville. Romney went outside to greet them after his speech. “If we win North Carolina, we are going to win the White House,” he said to cheers.

The rallies in Mooresville and High Point — and a homecoming event for Ryan in Wisconsin — are probably the final times the two men on the Republican ticket will appear together on the campaign trail.

Kevin Madden, campaign spokesman, told reporters traveling with the campaign that Ryan will work for votes in Iowa as Romney continues the bus tour in Florida, both swing states.

The Midwest is where the Romney team sees Ryan as an asset. “As a result of Congressman Ryan joining us, we have a number of states that are competitive where we feel he helps us,” Madden said, noting states President Obama won in 2008, including Wisconsin.

There was no word on whether Ryan will appear in North Carolina much. He visited Raleigh in June.

To set the stage for the national press, Romney’s campaign started the day mentioning North Carolina’s 9.4 percent unemployment rate and talked about jobs the state has lost. The economy is the message today — one Ryan will focus on in his campaigning.

Ryan said, “The contrast could not be more clear” this election year. His addition to the ticket is seen as a way to shift the conversation to federal spending and the role of government, two topics that have earned Ryan a loyal following in Republican circles.

“Yesterday was the kickoff of a new campaign,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem. Burr recounted how Ryan sleeps in his office in Washington instead of acquiring a home there. “Paul Ryan is frugal. He’s tight. And he’s going to be even tighter with your money.”

At the same time, Ryan’s budget plan provides Democrats with an easy target because it overhauls the federal budget and Medicare by cutting spending and remaking the health plan for retirees into a private system.

Nancy Ward, a 76-year-old retiree on Medicare who attended the rally, applauded the selection of Ryan. “He’s got good experience. He says what he’s going to do,” Ward said. “He’s the only one who’s had the guts to produce a budget.”

As for Ryan’s proposed changes in Medicare, Ward isn’t worried, partly because it wouldn’t affect her. “I think something needs to be done,” she said. “People are going to have to learn to save.”

Frank: 919-829-4698

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