US elections: vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan hailed, but was his speech 'misleading'?

Candidate accused of delivering 'misleading indictment of Obama', but Republican Party loves it

Paul Ryan speech wins plaudits - but was it 'misleading'?

 

Newly anointed Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan won a series of standing ovations last night as he delivered his speech to the party convention in Tampa. But opponents accused Ryan of playing fast and loose with the facts as he accused Obama of removing billions from Medicare and allowing a car plant to close.

The Wisconsin congressman set out an alternative economy strategy, promising to create millions of new jobs over the next four years and won loud applause for his promise that a Mitt Romney administration would protect Medicare, reports the Guardian.

The fate of the nation's youth during Obama's tenure was also a central theme. "College graduates should not have to live out their twenties in their childhood bedrooms staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going at life," said Ryan.

He painted a very different picture of his own experiences on leaving university. "I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself," he said. "That's what we do in this country. That's the American dream."

The speech won immediate praise from former House Speaker and one-time Romney rival Newt Gingrich, who said: "He did all he had to do. He introduced himself personally to the American people". Republican bloggers were similarly impressed. Tom Rogan hailed the speech as a triumph, calling it "bold, passionate and [full of] compelling arguments. Ryan didn't turn from the fray, he ran straight into it".

As the BBC's Mark Mardell points out, many Republicans have high hopes for Ryan, even likening him to a modern day Ronald Reagan. According to Mardell, Ryan is viewed as a politician who is "courageous, serious and intellectually able".

However, critics immediately hit back, pointing to a raft of factual errors in Ryan's speech. In its morning editorial, The Washington Post slammed Ryan's "misleading indictment of President Obama". PolitiFact.com has already compiled a "Truth-o-meter", debunking Ryan's claims that the president "funnelled" $716 billion out of Medicare "at the expense of the elderly", and dismissing allegations that he broke a promise to keep a Wisconsin General Motors plant from closing.

Writing in the New Statesman, Alex Hern argues that Ryan's speech heralds the dawn of a "post-factual age", saying: "Time and again, Ryan mislead, misspoke, and made misleading factual assertions".

Ryan's inclusion on the Republican ticket is in some ways a bigger risk than senator John McCain's shock choice of Sarah Palin in 2008. As the New York Times points out, whilst Palin stayed tightly focused on emotive rhetoric, Ryan represents "a set of substantive policy positions that even his own party shied away from until the last year or two". 

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