Updated 11:32 a.m. - DANVILLE, Va. -- Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan told an NBC News affiliate in Reno, NV, Tuesday that while Mitt Romney’s comments during a private fundraiser were “obviously inarticulate,” the point he was trying to make was valid.
“He was obviously inarticulate in making this point,” Ryan said in an interview with KRNV. “The point we’re trying to make here is under the Obama economy, government dependency is up and economic stagnation is up, and what we’re trying to achieve is getting people off of government dependency and back to a job that pays well and gets them onto a path of prosperity.”
Ryan, Romney’s top surrogate on the campaign trail, did a slew of interviews Tuesday -- the day after a video leaked of Romney speaking at a private fundraiser in Florida from May during which the GOP presidential nominee argued that people have become too dependent on the government under President Barack Obama.
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Asked if Romney regrets what he said, Ryan responded: “Oh, I think he would have said it differently, that’s for sure, but the point still stands. We have too many people becoming too dependent upon government because of the poor economic policies of the Obama administration.”
The former Massachusetts governor acknowledged during a press conference late Monday night that the comments, first published on the liberal site Mother Jones, were “not elegantly stated,” but again stood by his claim.
Priorities USA, a pro-Obama Super PAC, already has a television ad set to air in six battleground states seizing on these comments by the GOP presidential nominee.
Speaking at a campaign rally here in southern Virginia 48 days before the November election, Ryan continued to attack Obama’s economic policies.
“President Obama said that he believes in redistribution,” he said to a booing crowd. “Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth, Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth.”
The Wisconsin congressman continued: “Our job is not to fight over a shrinking pie in redistributed slices, our job as leaders is to grow the pie so that everybody has a better shot at the American dream, and everybody can pick themselves up."
The Obama re-election campaign disagrees.
“Congressman Ryan talked a lot about redistribution today, which is exactly what he and Mitt Romney are proposing to do if elected. While President Obama cut taxes for the typical middle class family by $3,600 over his first term, the Romney-Ryan plan would actually raise taxes on the middle class by cutting deductions like those for mortgage interest and charitable contributions in order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner wrote in an email. “That's certainly not a plan to strengthen the middle class - it's a plan to turn hard-earned middle class income into special breaks for the wealthiest."
Wednesday’s visit to the Commonwealth marks Ryan’s 10th event over eight days campaigning here – more than any other state.
“Virginians hold the key to this. You have a big responsibility. You want your country back,” Ryan told the roughly 900-person crowd outside Piedmont Precision Machine. “You have a big responsibility and Virginians it is in your power to do that.”