Ryan Does Not Bite Back After Clinton Attack

John Boehner

Representative Paul D. Ryan worked his way through a throng of supporters at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday.Max Whittaker for The New York TimesRepresentative Paul D. Ryan worked his way through a throng of supporters at a rally in Colorado Springs on Thursday.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A day after Bill Clinton attacked Representative Paul D. Ryan‘s Medicare plan by saying “it takes some brass” to make the claims he has, Mr. Ryan did not mention the former president at a rally here on Thursday.

Instead, Mr. Ryan repeated a staple of his stump speeches, telling supporters, “This debate about Medicare is a debate we want, it’s a debate we’re going to have and it’s a debate we’re going to win.’’

On Wednesday in Iowa, Mr. Ryan had praised Mr. Clinton as a model bipartisan president. He said his Medicare plan had roots in a commission that made similar recommendations when Mr. Clinton was president.

But on Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, Mr. Clinton thoroughly rejected the backhanded compliment. He denounced Mr. Ryan for his remarks at the Republican convention attacking President Obama’s health care law as “the biggest, coldest power play” by targeting older Americans for $716 billion in Medicare cuts. The law actually carves out those savings to expand coverage to the uninsured.

“That $716 billion is exactly to the dollar the same amount of Medicare savings that he had in his own budget,’’ Mr. Clinton said, referring to the Ryan budget plan that the House passed this spring. “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.’’

Anticipating Mr. Obama’s appearance on the final night of the convention on Thursday, Mr. Ryan recalled his 2008 acceptance speech in Denver.

“You know, right here in Colorado four years ago with the Styrofoam Greek columns, the big stadium, the president gave this long speech with lots of big promises,’’ Mr. Ryan said.

President Obama can give great speeches,’’ he added. “He can blame other people, the past. But he can’t tell you we are better off as a nation.’’

Mr. Ryan needled the Democrats over some embarrassing moments at the party they are putting on in Charlotte.

“Their convention actually began with a tribute to big government,’’ he said. “They actually said government is the only thing we all belong to.’’

The crowd of more than 1,500 filling an airplane hangar booed.

“Then they cut references to God out of their platform,’’ Mr. Ryan added.

More boos echoed.

“They reversed course on that one yesterday,’’ he said. “It wasn’t really a popular reversal, if you watch it on the TV. But to quote a prominent journalist from Wisconsin, they were against God before they were for him.’’

The reference was to a joke by Jim VandeHei of Politico on “Morning Joe,’’ a journalist from Mr. Ryan’s home state.

Mr. Ryan also pulled a line from a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward on the fiscal stalemate in Washington, excerpts of which have begun appearing in the news media.

“You know it was just reported that in the middle of President Obama’s debt ceiling negotiations last summer, Vice President Biden said, quote, ‘You know, if I were doing this, I’d do it totally different,’” Mr. Ryan said. “It sounds like Joe and I finally agree on something.’’

The crowd laughed appreciatively. According to accounts of Mr. Woodward’s book, “The Price of Politics,’’ which goes behind the curtain during the failure of talks between the White House and Congressional Republicans to reach a compromise over the debt last summer, Mr. Biden was complaining to the House majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, about Mr. Obama’s handling of negotiations.

Mr. Ryan did not repeat what Mr. Woodward says Mr. Cantor said in reply.

“You know, if I were doing this, I’d do it totally different,” Mr. Cantor said, a criticism of Speaker John A. Boehner’s handling of the Republican side of the talks, according to the book.

Leave a Reply