Rep. Paul Ryan closed the second night of the 2012 Republican National Convention, proudly accepting the vice presidential nomination as a representative of his generation, promising to deliver the America they inherited to their own children.
The 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman made his debut to a national public beyond the conservative true believers who adore him, using his time at the podium to highlight his youth and reiterate the GOP's determination to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law.
"The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare," he declared, tackling head-on the issue that Democrats hope to use against him. The Republicans, Ryan promised, will "protect" Medicare, not "raid" it, as he accused the administration of doing.
The Democrats, he said, offer a society of "entitlement" where "everything is free but us."
Ryan, the youngest vice presidential candidate since Dan Quayle in 1988, loyally promoted presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying the Romney-Ryan ticket "are going to solve this nation's economic problems."
He repeatedly praised his running mate's character, hailing him as "not only a fine businessman, but a fine man." Gently touching on Romney's Mormonism, the Catholic Ryan noted that "Mitt and I go to different churches," but stressed their common values.
Playing up his relative youth, he also gently chided Romney, 23 years his senior, for his iPod selections. "My playlist begins with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin," Ryan said to cheers.
"I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old, and I know that we are ready," Ryan said. "Our nominee is sure ready. His whole life has prepared him for this moment, to meet serious challenges in a serious way, without excuses and idle words. After four years of getting the runaround, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Gov. Mitt Romney."
Ryan also sprinkled personal details throughout his speech. Invoking the father who died suddenly when he was 16, he said, "My Dad used to say to me: 'Son. You have a choice: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution.' The present administration has made its choices. And Mitt Romney and I have made ours: Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation's economic problems. And I'm going to level with you: We don't have that much time. But if we are serious, and smart, and we lead, we can do this."
Romney is scheduled to speak at the RNC on Thursday night, two nights after formally being nominated as the Republican candidate.
The strongest theme throughout Ryan's speech, was the 2010 health care law, which was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court earlier this summer. He condemned Obamacare as "more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country."
"The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over. That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare."
Business Week reported that Ryan spent most of Wednesday in his Tampa hotel room preparing to deliver his address, to the largest audience that has ever heard him. The speech was carried by all the major television networks.
"The right that makes all the difference now is the right to choose our own leaders. You are entitled to the clearest possible choice because the time for choosing is drawing near," Ryan said. "So here is our pledge. We will not duck the tough issues - we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others - we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles. The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us - all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this."
Ryan spoke at the end of a night that featured speeches by Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also spoke, among others. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivered the keynote address to the convention Tuesday night, a speech that led many pundits to question if he'll run for president in 2016.
The vice-presidential candidate's speech comes after he got into some hot water regarding his response to the Todd Akin comments about "legitimate rape." During an interview with a Virginia reporter - which you can watch here - Ryan stressed his pro-life stance.
"But let's remember, I'm joining the Romney-Ryan ticket, and the president makes policy and the president -- in this case, the future president, Mitt Romney -- has exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, which is a vast improvement over where we are now," Ryan said.
"Well I'm very proud of my pro-life record, and I've always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life."