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Ryan, amid video uproar, stresses 'self-sufficiency'


DOVER, NH -- Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke of the need to encourage "self-sufficiency" amid an uproar over Mitt Romney's recently-surfaced comments about voters' dependency on government.

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan answers a question at a campaign stop in Dover, New Hampshire September 18, 2012.

Ryan, campaigning Tuesday in New Hampshire, made an oblique reference to the controversial video publicized by the liberal magazine Mother Jones but no explicit mention of the video or its contents.

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The Wisconsin congressman, instead, launched into a more detailed defense of the social safety net and how he and Romney think it is important to move voters off of those programs, and guard against dependence on the government.

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“By promoting more dependency, by not having jobs and economic growth, people miss their potential,” Ryan said inside the McConnell Community Center. “We should not be measuring the progress of our social programs – programs like food stamps – based upon how many people receive them. We should be measuring the progress of our social programs by how many people we transition off of them into lives of self-sufficiency and jobs and upward mobility.”

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The congressman continued: “We believe in a safety net. We believe in a safety net that is there for people who truly cannot help themselves so they can live a life of dignity but we also believe in a safety net that is there for people who are down on their luck so that they can get back on their feet. We don’t want a safety net that encourages more dependency because there is no economic growth behind it because what that ends up doing is it drains people of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives, to tap their potential, to get on their path to prosperity. That is what unfortunately is what we are seeing in the Obama economy.”

Romney himself is still wrestling with the fallout from the video, having hastily arranged a press conference last night to explain that his words caught on tape were "not elegantly stated." The former Massachusetts governor had been set to spend the day in fundraisers, but added a late afternoon interview on Fox News to his schedule today.

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Ryan, at his first of two public events today, stood by his running mate -- making the case for how the GOP ticket would reduce the number of Americans who fall dependent on the government.

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“Our goal, our mission is to address the root causes of poverty instead of simply treating the symptoms of poverty.  That's very critical,” Ryan said. “You see, by going after the root causes of poverty and trying to break the cycle of poverty, you need economic growth, you need job creation, you need higher take-home pay.”