WESTLAKE, Ohio — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan pressed the GOP argument Tuesday that the country isn't better off after nearly four years under President Barack Obama, comparing the incumbent's record to the performance of the last Democrat who was denied a second term in the White House.
"As a matter of fact, President Obama's record is worse than Jimmy Carter's record," Ryan declared from behind a lectern labeled with a sign that asks, "Are you better off?"
The question has become a key focus for Republicans this week as Democrats gather in Charlotte, N.C., to open their convention Tuesday and nominate Obama for a second term.
Obama's campaign aides and other supporters largely sidestepped the question when asked on Sunday, giving the Republican ticket an opening to try to use the query against Obama in the same way that Ronald Reagan effectively used against President Jimmy Carter when he sought re-election in 1980.
Ryan, who campaigned in the Cleveland area of the critical swing state of Ohio, said Romney deserves a chance these next four years. He spoke for the GOP ticket while the presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, traded the campaign trail for a supporter's home in Vermont to prepare for his debates with Obama next month.
"President Obama can tell you a lot, and he's going to do that, but he cannot tell you that you're better off," Ryan said. "After four years of getting the runaround, what America needs is a turnaround, and the man for that job is Mitt Romney."
Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, defended Obama's record earlier Tuesday.
"You know, I remember what was happening four years ago. The markets were crashing. The financial system was threatening to seize up. The auto industry was about to plunge over the edge. And there was a real question among most economists whether or not this country was headed into a full-fledged depression," she said on ABC's "Good Morning America." ''But the real issue now in the election is who has got the best plan going forward?"
Ryan was to campaign in Iowa later Tuesday.
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