TAMPA, Fla. – Rep. Paul Ryan stopped by a “beer and brats” party for his fellow Wisconsin Republicans on Wednesday afternoon, but he didn't stay long.
“I've got to give this speech tonight,” he said.
The speech – his acceptance of the Republican Party's nomination for vice president – marked the congressman's debut on the national stage, and party leaders promised a message of “optimism, opportunity and growth.”
Ryan ascended to the national stage after his authorship of the House Republican budget, which calls for steep cuts to domestic spending.
When Mitt Romney picked Ryan to be his running mate, Democrats pounced on Ryan's vision for the country, but Ryan sought to turn his controversial positions into an asset.
“We will not duck the tough issues – we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others – we will take responsibility,” Ryan said.
Ryan used Wednesday's prime-time speech to inoculate himself and Romney from Democratic attacks on their plans for health care.
“They've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left,” Ryan said.
Ryan's budget converts Medicare to a voucher program for the elderly to buy insurance on the private market. Democrats say the plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”
On Tuesday, the Republican Party adopted the idea in its official platform.
Ryan criticized Obama for cutting the future growth of the Medicare budget by $716 billion.
“The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we're going to stop it,” Ryan said.
Ryan's budget, however, relies on the same cuts. Romney has said he will not follow through with the cuts.
Ryan dared Democrats to press on with the attacks.
“So our opponents can consider themselves on notice. In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the left isn't going to work,” Ryan said. “Ladies and gentlemen, our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will win this debate.”
The Republican National Convention will end tonight with Romney's speech.