Republicans, independents gather for Ryan in Westlake



Maura Zurick


Nearly 1,000 voters joined vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in Westlake, Ohio, Tuesday for a campaign rally. Photos by Laura Fong.

WESTLAKE — Vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, asked in an address Tuesday afternoon to a gym full of supporters if they are better off today than four years ago, earning a resounding “no” in response.

Ryan, a Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, gave a 30-minute speech starting around noon, at the Westlake Recreation Center gym filled with nearly 1,000 Republicans and independents.

He also made comparisons between President Barack Obama and former President Jimmy Carter. Ryan said unemployment, poverty and bankruptcies are worse now than they were during Carter’s four years in the late 1970s.

“When it comes to jobs, President Obama makes the Jimmy Carter years look like good old days,” Ryan said. “If we fired Jimmy Carter then, why would we rehire Barack Obama now?”

Ryan said Obama’s record won’t help him win the election and that the president is “out of ideas.”

Ryan said if he and presidential candidate Mitt Romney win in November, they will not blame others for the problems of the past four years. He said they will take responsibility.

Colleen Harding of Bay Village is the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette. She said she is a Republican because she believes Republicans are the only party that can “get our country to where it needs to be.”

“I love that the fact that he doesn’t sound like a politician,” Harding said. “I love the fact that when he speaks, I feel his sincerity, and I don’t feel like I’m being sold. I don’t feel like someone is ‘blue-skying’ me, telling me what I want to hear just to buy my vote. I feel like he’s genuine, and he really means what he said. He’s totally different than his opponent.”

One of the key points to Ryan’s speech was his distaste of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” The mention of Obamacare riled the crowed as people booed and chanted “U.S.A.”

Ryan called Obamacare a “partisan government takeover of healthcare” that would take away $716 million from Medicare to fund Obamacare. He also said that small businesses will hire fewer employees because the act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2010, will increase the amount of taxes business owners have to pay.

Ryan’s speech reaffirmed voter choices for some of the rally attendees, several of whom are registered independents.

Nancy Rife of Avon Lake said she is an independent but is very impressed with Ryan. She said since he has been selected as the vice presidential candidate it helped further her decision making.

“I lean towards conservatism, and I’m real upset with the way the other side is leading, so I’ll probably vote Republican,” Rife said.

Ben Mackovak, 31, of Cleveland, said he runs a hedge fund. He is also an independent.

“I don’t think people should solely vote along a party line,” Mackovak said. “I think they should make the best decision that they agree with.”

Mackovak, who graduated from Kent State University in 2004, said he’ll be voting for Romney and Ryan.

“I’m a big fan of Paul Ryan because he’s the only one who has actually provided any type of courageous plan to address the huge problems this country faces,” Mackovak said. “No one ever gets reelected by promising to cut things, right? So it’s a lot easier to get reelected when you promise free stuff to people. He’s the only one who has actually put forth a serious plan of how to fix this budget mess we’re in.”

Contact Maura Zurick at [email protected].