The Midwestern U.S. state of Iowa, a key swing state in this year's
presidential election, was the scene of dueling political speeches on
Monday by President Barack Obama and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan,
who was chosen by Mitt Romney as his vice presidential running mate.
The addition of Ryan to the likely Republican Party ticket has energized
the Romney campaign. It also presents challenges and opportunities for
President Obama as he speaks about his differences with the Romney-Ryan
At the beginning of a two day day bus trip in Iowa, the president
appealed to voter in the city of Council Bluffs, where farmers and
others in the agricultural sector have been hit hard by drought.
Mr. Obama highlighted what he called Ryan's role in blocking passage of
a farm bill by the U.S. Congress.
"Governor Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa the
next few days," said President Obama. "He is one of the leaders of
Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan,
tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural
communities. We have got to put politics aside when it comes to doing
the right thing for rural America and for Iowa."
President Obama has called Ryan the ideological leader of Republicans in
Congress, who the president says are the cause of gridlock in Washington
that is harming middle class Americans.
Paul Ryan made his first solo campaign appearance since being chosen by
former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the Republican vice
At the Iowa State Fair, Ryan had to compete with hecklers in the
audience, who accused him and his running mate of hurting the middle
Ryan criticized the Democratic president on a broad range of issues -
from government spending to the nation's energy policy.
"President Obama has given us four years of trillion dollar - plus
deficits," said Ryan. "He is making matters worse, and he is spending
our children into a diminished future. We don't have to stand for that;
we're not going to stand for that. And on November 6, we're going to
Political scientist Cary Covington of the University of Iowa says Paul
Ryan's conservative positions, including his proposals for major federal
budget cuts, have strong appeal among Iowa Republicans.
is strong on lower taxes, strong on smaller government, and that is the
kind of candidate they were looking for," said Covington. "He is very
much a Tea Party kind of representative, so that will energize the
Republican base here in Iowa. But by the same token, it's going to
energize Democrats as well because of his stance on things like Medicare
and cutting support for farmers and those kind of things."
In 2008, Obama won Iowa, which has only 7 electoral votes, by a wide
margin. Recent public opinion surveys show Mr. Obama leading Romney in
key swing states. But one poll gives Romney a two point lead in Iowa.
In their first joint interview, on CBS television's "60 Minutes" program
on Sunday, Romney and Ryan defended their proposal to reform the
government-run Medicare program, saying their plan would not alter the
program for seniors citizens or those nearing retirement.
Romney campaigned on Monday in Florida. But political analysts say
Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate, with his proposals to
transform Medicare and Medicaid, could hurt Republican chances in that
swing state in November.