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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Paul Ryan in Ocala: 'We have a very clear choice: stagnation or growth'



OCALA (AP) - President Barack Obama has no clear plan for the next four years, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said Thursday.

Ryan spoke for about an hour to an enthusiastic crowd of several thousand in Ocala, Fla., and took questions on topics ranging from Social Security to homeschooling.

But Ryan's primary target was the president, and he drew distinctions between Obama and his running mate, Mitt Romney.

"We have a moral obligation to save the American dream," Ryan said. "We have a very clear choice: stagnation or growth."

Ryan spoke at length about Social Security and Medicare, saying that for people 55 and over, the programs wouldn't change under the GOP ticket's plan. For younger generations, Ryan said he advocates subsidies - with amounts yet to be determined - to help future retirees buy private insurance or join a government plan modeled on traditional Medicare. He said the Republican plan would give people more choice.

Ryan also charged the Democratic incumbent with sending a divisive message. "He's basically trying to disqualify his opponent with a sea of negativity," Ryan said. "He's trying to divide this country, pitting people against each other. He's trying to win this election by default. You know what, we're not going to let him get away with that."

Ryan took a handful of questions from the crowd, including one on homeschooling. "We believe in freedom. If you believe the best way to raise your children is to homeschool your children, then God bless you," Ryan said.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 18, 2012 5:50pm]


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