COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — President Barack Obama has broken too many promises to earn a second term and four more years under his leadership could leave America as a "welfare state with a debt crisis," Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Thursday.
"President Obama can give great speeches, he can blame other people in the past, but he can't tell you we are better off as a nation," Ryan declared just hours before Obama was to address the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and a prime-time national television audience.
Speaking in the state of Colorado where Obama delivered his convention address four years ago, Ryan repeatedly referenced the 2008 speech and used the president's own measuring sticks to tear down his case for a second term.
"Candidate Obama said that Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress," said Ryan at a rally that drew roughly 3,000 people to an airport hangar in Colorado Springs, Colo. "By those very measurements, his leadership has fallen woefully short."
Ryan cited Obama's promises to reduce foreclosure rates, boost incomes and shrink the national debt.
The 42-year old Wisconsin congressman has been the face of the Republican presidential ticket this week as presidential contender Mitt Romney privately prepares for next month's debates.
With polls suggesting the election is essentially a tossup with two months to go, Ryan accused Obama of being "the most partisan president" and blamed him for "the most acrimonious climate, the bitter partisan environment."
Speaking at a California fundraiser later in the day, he compared Obama to former President Bill Clinton, who addressed the Democratic convention Wednesday night.
"We don't have a Bill Clinton Democrat," Ryan said of Obama at the Beverly Hills reception where couples paid $25,000 to dine with the vice presidential nominee. "We have somebody who went far to the left."
In his convention speech Thursday night, Obama is expected to cast the election as a choice, spelling out his vision of how to create economic opportunity and warning that Romney would restore trickle-down ideas that Obama says were quietly gutting the economy for years before crashing it completely. Obama will also try to summon inspiration by saying that America is right on the cusp of what it could be.
"The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place," Obama said in advance excerpts of a prime-time speech.
Ryan on Thursday framed the election as a choice as well.
"We want you to have an affirming choice so you can choose, I want this path instead of that path, I want the opportunity society with a safety net, a path to prosperity, I don't want the welfare state with the debt crisis," he said.
Ryan also criticized Democrats for "being against God before they were for him."
On Wednesday, Democrats changed their party platform to include the word "God" and cite Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The shift followed Republican criticism.