Paul Ryan hailed Mitt Romney as a “defender of marriage” in a prime-time speech to the Republican National Convention largely devoted to a blistering critique of President Barack Obama and his policies.
The vice-presidential nominee spoke Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., where he talked about his upbringing in Wisconsin and said Romney is “not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best.” Romney and Ryan have expressed support for a federal marriage amendment and criticized the Obama administration for not defending the Defense of Marriage Act, positions articulated in this year’s Republican Party platform.
Ann Romney talked about her marriage to her husband during her speech Tuesday night. Her choice of words seemed to send a signal to listeners opposed to marriage equality.
“A storybook marriage? No, not at all,” she said. “What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.”
Ryan also reiterated his belief that rights come from a divine source, not government. He expressed this view earlier this month on the day Romney announced him as his running mate.
“They are self-evident and unchanging, and sometimes even presidents need reminding that our rights come from nature and God, not from government,” he said Wednesday.
The bulk of Ryan’s nearly 40-minute speech was dedicated to attacking President Obama for promoting “a government-planned life, where everything is free but us.” He accused the president of taking $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for health care reform, but analysts pointed out that the Wisconsin congressman proposed the same cuts in his budget.
Ryan, at age 42, said that he Romney are “a full generation apart,” and contrasted their iPod playlists, saying that his “starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin.” He made a pitch to the younger voters who fueled the Obama campaign to victory in 2008 and who polls show support marriage equality in large numbers regardless of party affiliation.
“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life,” said Ryan to significant applause in the convention center.
GOProud, a group representing gay conservatives and their allies, issued a statement praising Ryan’s speech. The organization has endorsed the Romney-Ryan ticket, while Log Cabin Republicans has yet to make any announcement of its plans.
“I have sat in Paul Ryan’s congressional office and talked to him about the special challenges that face gay people and gay couples in this country and how his plans to reform Social Security, Medicare, health care, and our tax code would actually help gay Americans,” said GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia. “I can tell you firsthand that Paul Ryan gets it when it comes to dealing with the challenges that face the gay community.”
Other speakers in the prime-time line-up Wednesday included former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and New Mexico governor Susana Martinez. Huckabee took on the marriage issue, calling Obama the “only self-professed evangelical” among the four candidates on the two tickets and saying the president “supports changing the definition of marriage.” Romney is a Mormon, while Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden are Catholic.
Romney will speak to the convention Thursday night. Watch Ryan's speech in its entirety below.