WAUKESHA, Wis. With the 2012 Summer Olympics winding down, the 2012 presidential campaign geared up Sunday, with President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney framing arguments and trading accusations that will likely set the tone and tenor of the upcoming political conventions and the fall campaign.
With new running mate Paul Ryan in tow, a reinvigorated Romney raced across North Carolina and Wisconsin on Sunday, warning at each stop that an Obama second term would be economically devastating for America.
At a state homecoming rally here, Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, blasted Obama and praised the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker, who survived a union-led recall effort in June. "On June 5, courage was on the ballot in Wisconsin and courage won. We Wisconsinites, we saved Wisconsin that day," said Ryan, author of a budget plan that would cut taxes, federal spending and revamp Medicare. "And on Nov. 6, we Wisconsinites will help save America that day."
Ryan told the crowd that Obama is leading the country on a path "toward a welfare state with a debt crisis."
"Do we want to copy Europe?" No!" Ryan shouted.
Earlier in the day in North Carolina, Ryan told a crowd that packed into a furniture factory in High Point that "We have a clear choice of two futures Are we going to accept the status quo, a path of debt, a path of doubt and decline? We can turn this country around."
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Obama formally welcomed Ryan to the campaign, invoking his name to a chorus of boos during a fundraiser at an arts center. The event was the second of five fundraisers in his hometown Sunday.
"I know him, I welcome him to the race," Obama said, cutting the crowd's booing off.
Obama called Ryan the "ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress." Ryan is a "decent man, a family man" and an "articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision," Obama said.
"But it's a vision I fundamentally disagree with," he added. "The question in this election is which way do we go? Do we go forward toward a vision of American in which prosperity is shared or do we go backward, toward the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place?"
David Axelrod, Obama's senior adviser, was even less genteel. He called Ryan a "right-wing ideologue" on CNN's "State of the Union."
Ryan may have been panned in Chicago, but his presence on Romney's ticket was praised in North Carolina and Wisconsin, key states in November's election.
The Republican team was greeted by a large crowd in Waukesha, a heavily Republican town about 20 miles outside Milwaukee. Traffic was snarled two hours before the event outside the expo center where the candidate appeared. The state's governor and the Republican Party's standard bearer took second billing to Ryan, the first person from Wisconsin to be on a major presidential ticket.