DENVER - President Barack Obama's Colorado campaign welcomed the new GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to the state Monday by highlighting the Wisconsin congressman's record at an afternoon press conference.
Ryan is set to attend two private fundraisers with supporters in Denver Monday night -- tickets range from $2,500 to $25,000 -- before holding a rally Tuesday morning at Lakewood High School.
"In naming Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House of Representatives who shares his commitment to a very flawed economic theory," said Rick Palacio, Chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party. "It's a theory that says you can give budget-busting tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and place greater burdens on the middle class and seniors.
"Well, we've tried this. This is a theory that has failed."
State Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, joined Palacio and Congressman Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, at the press conference in Manley Park in Cherry Creek, and focused on Ryan's record with regard to women's issues, arguing that Ryan and Romney "have extreme values on contraception and reproductive rights."
"Congressman Ryan also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, which ensures women get equal pay for equal work," Duran said.
Perlmutter, who's worked alongside Ryan in Washington, portrayed the GOP's new vice presidential candidate as an honorable, likable man who's unbending in his ideology.
"I like Paul, I know him. But he is very firm in his belief and it's either his way or the highway," Perlmutter said. "The Ryan budget basically preserves and expands tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of Medicare, at the expense of veteran's programs."
Although Ryan arrived in Congress 14 years ago, his ideas have only recently risen to prominence following the 2010 election, when 87 new Republicans were elected to the House on a strong Tea Party-driven wave.
Given the low approval ratings for Congress, Perlmutter didn't surprise anyone when he tried to tie Ryan -- and, by extension, Romney -- to the House GOP Majority, which he blames for prolonged impasses over the debt ceiling, the payroll tax extension and several other legislative stalemates.
"Paul has been part of that brinksmanship," Perlmutter said. "Just as the Tea Party members who were elected in 2010 have taken everything right to the brink; and in my opinion, it hasn't been helpful to the country."
Republicans, including Perlmutter's challenger this fall, derided the Democrats for what they termed as "scare tactics".
"Congressman Perlmutter's scare tactics are astonishing considering that he is the only candidate in this race who has already voted to rob over $500 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare," said Republican candidate Joe Coors' spokeswoman, Michelle Yi. "The Ryan budget will protect the Medicare system for generations to come while Rep. Perlmutter prefers to keep Medicare on its current path to bankruptcy.
"We can keep our promise to America’s seniors, but only with a federal government that does not have to borrow trillions to pay its bills."
The Romney campaign has also found a video of Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chairman of Obama's Commission on Fiscal Stability, praising Ryan and, to some extent, his controversial budget.
Here's what Bowles says in the remarks last September at the University of North Carolina:
Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the university. I’m telling you, this guy is amazing. I always thought I was okay at arithmetic, this guy can run circles around me. And he is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget, and it cut the budget deficit, just like we did, by $4 trillion.
The president came out with his own plan. And, the president as you remember, came out with a budget. And I don’t think anybody took that budget very seriously. The Senate voted against it 97-to-nothing.