TAMPA, Fla. -- On Tuesday night, the Wisconsin delegation got a jolt of excitement seeing Gov. Scott Walker address the nation. But Wednesday night, the delegates swooned watching another hometown star, the vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, as he delivered a rousing speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
While Walker seemed tentative and a bit nervous, Ryan was a man completely at ease with himself on the national stage. Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town" blared from the speakers as Ryan swaggered onto the stage to thunderous applause. During his speech he was confident and funny, and portrayed the Obama administration as one that had been filled with new excitement but has failed.
The speech itself borrowed heavily from one Ryan gave at Janesville Craig High School on Monday. Though Ryan complained about Democrats running attack ads, he spent much of his speech attacking Obama and the Democrats. One of his best lines was: "College graduates shouldn't have to live with their parents, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can get going with their lives."
But to those in the convention hall, he was preaching the gospel. "Oh my God, it was just absolutely fantastic," said Sue Lynch, a delegate from Onalaska, who is the immediate past president of the National Federation of Republican Women. "He mentioned all of our core values as Republicans: faith, family, reduce the size of government. It just was one of the greatest speeches I've heard him speak. He is one of the solid conservatives in Congress and will continue to be a solid conservative as vice president of the United States."
The scene on the convention floor was considerably more chaotic Wednesday night than it was Tuesday. Reporters clogged up the aisle around the Wisconsin delegation,jockeying for position for the end of the speech so they could get reactions. Several TV cameras were aimed at Governor Walker, capturing his reaction to the speech.
Ryan's speech seemed designed to appeal to moderates and people watching on TV who might be on the fence. But inside the convention hall, Republicans were completely enamored. "He knocked it out of the ballpark," said Maripat Krueger, a delegate from Menominee. "He hit on so many key issues. It was very emotional because we've known him for a long time and it's so great to see him on a national stage. He articulates these difficult issues in a way people can really understand them. He seems to have some solutions that people can grasp."
"It was exceptional," agreed former Governor Tommy Thompson, who is running for U.S. Senate against Tammy Baldwin. "He captured not just the mood of this convention but the mood of the country. What it's going to do is allow for him to tell people, 'this is the problem and we have solutions.' No finger pointing. We're going to solve the problems. Then he makes the promise we're going to create 12 million jobs."
Listen to Thompson discuss this speech.
It wasn't just Wisconsinites who were gushing. "Absolutely marvelous. He said what anybody should want to hear," said Gayle Ruzicka of Utah. "He talked about success, children, about the economy and what we need to do to turn it around. And he talked about family. And I think our nation wants to hear about family and God. You notice that when ever he talks about the unborn, people cheer. When he talks about God, people cheer."
But Ryan's thoughts on the economy resonated most with Katie Regan from Boston. "It's inspiring to the rest of us to know that there actually is a plan to change the course and the direction of our country so we can start growing the economy and creating jobs again," she said. "No matter where you align politically, this election is about jobs and the economy."
Joe Tarr is in Tampa with reporters from WORT 89.9 FM covering the Republican National Convention and will move on to Charlotte to cover the Democratic National Convention.