Obama Calls Ryan ‘Ideological Leader’ of Republican Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to supporters during a fundraising reception in Chicago on Sunday. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama called Representative Paul Ryan the “ideological leader” of congressional Republicans as he welcomed him to the election campaign.

“I congratulate Congressman Ryan, I know him, I welcome him to the race,” Obama said to boos from a crowd of supporters during his first public comments since presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney named Ryan as his running mate. “Congressman Ryan is a decent man, he is a family man, he’s an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney’s vision. But it’s a vision that I fundamentally disagree with.”

Obama made the remarks at the second of five fundraisers in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The addition of Ryan, a seven-term congressman, to the Republican ticket changes the dynamics of the presidential race in its closing months and give Obama the opportunity to sharpen the lines of attack on taxes and the role of government that he’s already using against Romney.

Ryan’s alternative to the president’s budget presents a stark contrast between the two parties, cutting government spending, overhauling U.S. entitlements, and eventually transitioning Medicare into a voucher system.

“Top down economics is central to Governor Romney and it is central to his running mate,” Obama said.

Home Fundraiser

Obama opened his Hyde Park home for the first time in the re-election cycle for the third of a series of five fundraisers today. He told donors who paid $40,000 a ticket that the campaign will be intense through the November election.

“This is not going to be a race like Usain Bolt, where we’re like 40 yards ahead and we can just kind of start jogging 10 feet before the finish line,” Obama said, referring to the Jamaican Olympic sprinter who won three gold medals at the games in London. “We’re going to have to run through the tape.”

As he stood on the front lawn of his three story red brick home located on a leafy street he made an appeal to his donors: “Now is the time to double down.”

Democrat Obama already has sought to tie Romney to Ryan’s fiscal proposals, which the former Massachusetts governor has endorsed. Still, the Republican vice presidential candidate probably won’t become a major part of the president’s stump speech.

Appeal to Supporters

At the earlier event, where about 1,000 people paid at least $51 per person, Obama said Romney, Ryan and Republicans in Congress “believe that if we just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and we give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans it will lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody else.” Obama said their approach is destined to fail.

Earlier in the day Obama attended a small roundtable which was closed to the press in downtown Chicago with tickets running $40,000 a person. He will cap off the day with two fundraisers at other private homes in Chicago: the first with tickets starting at $5,000 and the final fundraiser of the day with tickets costing $1,000 each.

Obama is seeking to bring in between $3.5 and $4 million for his re-election campaign with the events.

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