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Ryan takes on role of attack dog in Nevada

August 15, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speaks during a campaign event at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speaks during a campaign event at Palo Verde High… (David Becker / AP Photo )

LAS VEGAS -- Days one, two and three of Paul D. Ryan’s introduction to the campaign trail may have been about promoting Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick. But day four was about attacking President Obama.

Appearing in crowded gymnasiums in Nevada and Colorado, Ryan repeatedly criticized the president on his economic policies and the national debt, comparing Obama’s style of government to those in European countries, an argument that drew boisterous shouts of “U.S.A.” alongside boos of the president.

“It's kind of the kind of government that they have in Europe. You think it's working out for them?” he asked the crowd at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.

“No,” it yelled back.

“What we’re now seeing from the president is nothing more than division and demagoguery,” he said. “We’re going to offer optimism and opportunity.”

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Government programs aren’t getting the economy back on track, Ryan said, nor are they helping the housing market recover. The Obama administration has floated a number of proposals aimed at getting the housing market back on track, including a foreclosure prevention program and a refinancing program. Still, home prices in Las Vegas were down 3.2% year over year in May, the most recent month available.

In addition, Nevada has long had the highest unemployment rate in the nation, a fact Ryan added to his stump speech Tuesday. The unemployment rate here stands at 11.6%, down from 13.8% a year ago.

“11.6% -- you deserve better than that,” Ryan said in Las Vegas, citing the large number of foreclosure filings in underwater homes in Nevada.

An average of polls from Real Clear Politics shows Obama up 5 points in the state. He won it by 12.5% in 2008, but Democrats lost their advantage in the state in 2010, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won a hard-fought reelection campaign by just 5 points. Unions were instrumental in Reid’s victory. 

But voters like Ed Hutchinson, 53, of Las Vegas say they’re sick of the bad economy and the sluggish housing market. Hutchinson, who works for a general contractor, has had to travel to New Mexico, Kansas and California for work. His  house’s value has dropped by half.

“We need to work on the economy first, then the housing market,” he said.

The introduction of Ryan to the Romney campaign only solidified his vote, said Hutchinson, who thinks Ryan's budget plan was something new and exciting in a stale national political climate.

“We’re looking for something that’s new and crisp,” he said.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

Twitter: @alanasemuels

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