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Ryan calls debt Obama's 'worst' broken promise

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Congressman Paul Ryan said the national debt surpassing $16 trillion Tuesday is a “downer” and argued it’s President Obama’s “worst” broken promise to the country only further underlining why voters should choose a new path this November.

“This is a serious threat to our economy,” Ryan told the crowd roughly an hour after the Treasury Department announced that the national debt surpassed $16 trillion for the first time in American history. “Of all the broken promises from President Obama, this is probably the worst one because this debt is threatening jobs today, it is threating prosperity today and it is guaranteeing that our children and grandchildren get a diminished future.”

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan speaks at a rally in Westlake, Ohio.

Speaking in the same venue President Obama visited earlier in the summer, the Wisconsin congressman took a jab at the Democrats who kick off their convention in Charlotte, N.C., today: “We had a debt clock at the convention last week. I don’t see the debt clock at the convention this week.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad piled on as well.

“And just this week when the Democrats are about to gather for their convention, to promise four more years of the same, the united states national debt has hit a record high of 16 trillion dollars. No coincidence it's the same day as their convention begins,” Branstad told the nearly 900-person crowd.

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Standing in front of two large “are you better off” signs – with the Obama ‘O’ artwork in them – Ryan blamed the incumbent president for not having “leadership on this issue” and vowed that a Romney administration would turn the country around.

The Obama re-election campaign disagrees. 

“Congressman Ryan’s the last person to lecture on the debt and here’s why: he was a rubber stamp in Congress for the policies that turned surpluses into deficits, putting two wars on the credit card, voting for a prescription drug benefit without paying for it, and fighting for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans when they weren’t asking for them,” Danny Kanner, Obama campaign spokesman, wrote in a statement.

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Earlier in the day while stumping in the battleground state of Ohio, Ryan continued to tie parallels to the 2012 election to the 1980 election.

“If we fired Jimmy Carter, then why would we re-hire Barack Obama now?” the GOP VP nominee said. “President Obama can tell you a lot, and he’s good at doing that, but he cannot tell you that you’re better off. After four years of getting the runaround what America needs is a turnaround, and the man for that job is Mitt Romney.”

Ryan will continue campaigning in the Hawkeye State Wednesday before heading out West for a big fundraising push.