DANVILLE, Va. — Paul Ryan continued the Romney campaign's attack Wednesday against President Barack Obama on jobs, the economy, energy and a new twist — a recording of Obama saying nearly 14 years ago that he believes in wealth redistribution.
With the Republican presidential ticket battling in Virginia and other battleground states against polls showing the campaign losing ground slightly, Ryan doubled down for the second day in a row on money issues that remain their strongest talking point in a struggling economy.
The audio touted by Republicans Wednesday represents payback after Democrats on Monday highlighted covert videos of Romney addressing supporters at a closed, private fundraiser in which he says 47 percent of the electorate will never support him because they are dependent on government.
"You know, President Obama said he believes in redistribution," Ryan said early in his remarks to several hundred people under cloudy skies outside a two-acre machine tool plant near Danville. "Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth. Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth."
In the audio recording, Obama is speaking as part of a panel at Loyola University in 1998 when he was an Illinois state senator. In discussing efforts to target aid to the working poor, Obama is heard on the tape saying, "There has been a systematic — I don't think it's too strong to call it a propaganda campaign — against the possibility of government action and its efficacy."
Obama said that some of it was earned, noting the performance at the time of the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Schools. He said government needs to resuscitate "this notion that we're all in this together, leave nobody behind."
"I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence, facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure everybody's got a shot," Obama says as the YouTube recording concludes.
Ryan again noted Tuesday's announcement by Alpha Natural Resources that it will close eight coal mines in Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Three of the mines are in Virginia. His remarks coincided with the release in Virginia of a new Romney campaign ad attacking Obama titled "War on Coal."
It was the second day in a row for Ryan in Virginia in a critical swing state where polls show the race close but Obama widening his lead. Obama is scheduled to visit Virginia again Friday in a trip to Manassas.
"You notice we come around here pretty often these days," Ryan told supporters standing in muddy sod outside Piedmont Precision Machine Co. "You know why? Because Virginians matter, you really do matter."
The venue for Tuesday evening's appearance was in Hampton Roads, a pivotal swing region within Virginia with a heavy active duty and retired military population and blue-collar manufacturing at a major manufacturer of aircraft carriers and other Navy vessels. Wednesday's rally was in Danville, which was once a bustling textile and tobacco town devastated by downturns in both industries the past 20 years.
Before the speech, Ryan toured the plant with his brother, Tobin Ryan, U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, a freshman Republican who represents the district, and the plant's owner, William Gentry. The company manufactures specialty tires for heavy vehicles.
During a brief stroll through massive steel machines that sat uncharacteristically idle on a weekday morning, a lone worker, Phillip Richardson of Danville, cranked up a hulking lathe nearly 30 feet wide and a milling machine used to make tires.