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CHARLOTTE, NC — Looking to offer its own counter-programming as the Democratic National Convention kicks off here this week, the Mitt Romney campaign dispatched vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to Greenville Monday and offered FOX 31 Denver an exclusive interview with the Wisconsin Congressman.

In that satellite interview with political reporter Eli Stokols, Ryan argued that America is in worse shape than it was four years ago, drawing out the same theme the GOP established at its own convention in Tampa, Fla. last week.

In a wide-ranging interview, Ryan answered questions about several issues of relevance to the country and to Colorado, one of just a handful of swing state’s poised to decide who wins this year’s race for the White House.

The noted deficit hawk who is the author of the controversial House GOP budget plan blamed President Obama for adding to the country’s ballooning deficit because of the 2009 stimulus package and Obamacare, which was signed into law last year.

“It’s actually the economy that’s given us the deficit we have and the massive deficit spending and domestic spending we’ve seen under President Obama,” Ryan told FOX31. “Yes, the wars are a small part of it.”

Actually, the Iraq war, which Ryan voted to authorize, will cost the nation more than $3 trillion; and the Bush tax cuts, which Ryan also voted for when they first took effect in 2001, will ultimately cost the nation $3.2 trillion if extended again through 2021.

The stimulus, by comparison, came at a price tag of $787 billion.

FOX 31 Denver also asked Ryan about his vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which prevents gender discrimination in the workplace and was the first bill President Obama signed into law upon taking office.

“Of course I support the concept of equal pay for equal work,” Ryan told FOX31 Denver. “That’s already been the law. This is about lawsuits. This is about the statute of limitations on whether you can sue people way beyond the time when the infraction occurred.”

The Fair Pay Act amends the protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action. 

FOX31 Denver also asked Ryan, who opposes the extension of a Production Tax Credit for wind energy providers, which is currently stalled in Congress.

Last month, Vestas, the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world, laid off 120 workers at its Colorado plants; and an estimated 37,000 jobs may be lost nationwide if the wind PTC isn’t renewed by year’s end.

In an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes”, Ryan called Solyndra, the now defunct solar panel manufacturer that received stimulus loans, “a fad.”

FOX31 Denver asked Ryan if he believes wind energy is a fad.

“I believe that picking winner and losers in the economy is a fad,” Ryan told FOX31 Denver. “I believe picking select companies for government largesse is not a good idea. I think the we should invest in basic research so we can have more renewables. But the government shouldn’t try and prop up specific companies.

“Handing out favors to certain industries, certain companies, that’s cronyism, it’s corporate welfare, it doesn’t work.”

Of course, the top five oil companies in the United States currently receive a combined $4 billion in annual government subsidies.

“We’re saying in tax reform, all this stuff needs to be on the table,” Ryan told FOX31 Denver. “Let’s get rid of all these loopholes that go to specific industries, oil included, so can lower tax rates for everybody.”

Ryan also spoke about what his budget proposal would mean for FEMA’s budget and for government agencies tasked with fighting to wildfires — and about whether the Broncos are better off with Peyton Manning over Tim Tebow.