Image: Paul Ryan
Andrew Innerarity  /  REUTERS
Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan chats with restaurant employee, Lourdes Alcerro, right, as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, left, holds up a cup in front of Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, at a campaign stop at Cuban restaurant and coffee shop, Versailles in Miami, Florida September 22, 2012.
NBC News
updated 9/25/2012 1:35:11 PM ET 2012-09-25T17:35:11

Kicking off the “Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class” bus tour across Ohio, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan proclaimed during a townhall that Americans have begun giving up hope under President Barack Obama’s presidency.

“People are beginning to give up hope. People are beginning to think that the American dream’s not for them because of this stagnant economy,” Ryan told the nearly 1,500-person crowd along Ohio’s key I-75 corridor. “And when you take a look at what your government’s doing to you in every nook and cranny of America, it’s not good.”

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The seven-term Wisconsin congressman – speaking next to a large “we can’t afford four more years” sign in West Central Ohio – tried to strike a personal chord at the Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center Monday afternoon, talking about defense cuts and protecting the local tank plant.

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“We are being equivocal on our values, we are being slow to speak up for individual rights, for human rights, for democracy. We are seeing countries stifle freedom in Iran, in Russia, in all these other areas and we are saying we are going to gut our national security, our military. That projects weakness,” Ryan said, noting that turning on the TV makes you think of 1979 Tehran.

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Ryan – joined by both Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus – continued: “This is why you don’t, for a budget gimmick, shut down your only M1 tank plant in America, this is why you don’t gut national security, this is why you have peace through strength because if we are strong, if we are clear with who we are and what our values are, our adversaries will respect us more and our allies will trust us more, and that’s why peace through strength is going to be the Romney-Ryan administration’s doctrine.”

All eyes are on the Buckeye State this week. Romney and Ryan are barnstorming the state with a three-day bus tour beginning today and President Obama will campaign in the state Wednesday.

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Romney is currently trailing President Obama in Ohio, recent polls show. The University of Cincinnati poll released Sunday has Obama ahead 51%-46% and the NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll of Ohio had Obama up 50%-43%.

With just 43 days before the election, Ryan fielded questions from the crowd dealing with a range of topics including why Republicans who may have supported another candidate in the primaries should vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket come November.

“Do you want Barack Obama to be re-elected?” Ryan asked the man.

“Then don’t vote for Ron Paul,” the nominee said to applause.

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