COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Barack Obama failed to bring any new ideas that could revive the economy during the second presidential debate, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said Wednesday.
Ryan told supporters in the Cleveland area that running mate Mitt Romney followed up a strong first debate with another winning performance.
The Wisconsin congressman said Obama is out of answers and it showed in Tuesday night's debate. "This might be the best President Obama can give us, but it's not what we should settle for," Ryan said.
Later in Columbus, Ryan appeared at an event tailored to display his strength on fiscal issues. Eleven dinner companions at an Italian restaurant on the city's east side peppered him with questions on the federal debt, taxes and Obama's health care law.
"Do you have a whiteboard here?" Ryan quipped with a smile when he was asked to explain how a Romney administration would tackle the deficit.
He inquired when joining the table if diners had already said grace. When the answer was yes, he said he'd say his own private prayer.
Several dozen protesters organized by SEIU Local 1199 and ProgressOhio chanted, "Four more years!" and waved signs outside the event. They brought clean pots and pans and displayed signs that said, "Soup Kitchen Photo Op - NO."
While in northeast Ohio, Ryan mixed politics with football in Ohio —two topics that are unavoidable this fall in the prized swing state — by dropping in on practice at the Cleveland Browns facility with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a lifelong Browns fan.
Both took turns talking with the team.
Ryan told the players he's been impressed by the play of rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, but it turns out he was pointing at backup quarterback Colt McCoy. That got a good laugh out of their teammates. Ryan recovered quickly, mentioning the team's victory over Cincinnati last Sunday.
Ryan also shared his favorite hunting spots with Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas, who's also a Wisconsin native. Ryan lamented that he's missing hunting season this fall. "I've got this election thing going on," he told Thomas.
Earlier at Baldwin-Wallace University, Ryan said that Obama's campaign is now trying to scare voters because he can't run on his record. "He gives us a growing debt and no solutions," Ryan said.
The Romney-Ryan ticket says its economic plan would grow jobs in the energy industry and through small businesses, helping to create 12 million jobs.
Obama spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Romney's plan would end up hurting the middle class and only benefit the wealthy through $5 trillion in tax cuts. "Mitt Romney misled voters time and again last night and refused to explain his indefensible ideas when he was exposed on the emptiness of his own plans," she said.
One dinner guest in Columbus asked Ryan if he could dispel the notion that he and Romney would raise taxes on the middle class. He said it's a mistaken idea perpetuated by "hundreds of millions of dollars in negative advertising."
Ryan said he and Romney have records of cutting taxes and plan to continue to do so if elected.
Rice also joined Ryan at the rally at Baldwin-Wallace University. She told the crowd that it has been a rough decade, starting with the terrorist attacks in 2001 and the economic collapse near the end of the decade. "The last four years have been very tough on people who just want to work hard and make a living," Rice said.
She said the country is at a crossroads, adding: "We cannot continue to spend money that we cannot afford to pay back."
Seewer wrote from Berea, Ohio.