- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

With Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney making his final preparations Tuesday for his second debate showdown with President Obama, his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan took to the stump in Virginia, telling supporters that Mr. Obama can’t run on his record and is relying on desperate attacks in hopes of winning a second term “by default.”

Mr. Ryan said that the “Washington knows best” philosophy that Obama administration has embraced the last four years has stifled job creation, bogged down economic growth, led the nation to the highest poverty rate in generations and gone on a spending spree that has culminated in four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits.

The Wisconsin Republican and House Budget Committee chairman also warned that Mr. Obama’s plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, but not for individuals who make more than $250,000 annually, will hurt small business and only take a small slice out of the deficit.

“This idea that we can just take more from workers, take more from businesses and spend it in Washington — if this idea worked, we would be entering a golden area along with Greece,” Mr. Ryan told supporters at a campaign stop in Lynchburg, Va., alluding to the financial crises that has decimated the Mediterranean nation.

With about three weeks to go before Election Day, the latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls that Mr. Romney has ridden a wave of momentum from his well-received debate performance in Denver earlier this month to the a paper-thin lead over Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama, though, is that he still holds the slightest of edges in Virginia, where in 2008 he became the first Democrat in 44 years to win the state in a presidential election.

But there were more negative signs for the Democrat in a new USA Today/ Gallup poll released Tuesday. The poll showed Mr. Romney sitting atop a 4 percentage point lead — 50 percent to 46 percent — over Mr. Obama among likely voters in swing states.

The polls come days after Mr. Ryan and Vice President Joseph R. Biden took part in their only debate of the campaign — battling to what many political observers read as a draw.

Taken together, the surveys and shifting story-lines have helped raise the stakes for the town-hall style debate Tuesday night at Hofstra University.

Coming off his widely panned performance in Denver, Mr. Obama spent several days hunkered down with advisors in Williamsburg, Va.

Asked Tuesday whether he was prepared for the second face-off, Mr. Obama told reporters that, “I feel fabulous” and then quickly turned the conversation to the weather. “Look at this beautiful day,” he said. “Gorgeous. I hope you enjoy the weather.”

Mr. Ryan spoke about an hour later in Lynchburg, where he said that Mr. Obama has failed to deliver on the promises he made four years ago.

“He can’t run on the fact that the economy is barely limping along, slower this year than last year and last year was slower than the year before that,” he said. “So because he can’t run on his record, ‘Hope and Change’ has now become attack ‘Defame and Blame.’ He is going to try to divide this country. He is going to try to distract this country. He is going to going to distort what we are offering in order to try and win this election by default.”

“Guess what, we are not going to let him get away with it, are we?” he said, sparking cries of “No!” from the crowd.

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