Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stopped in Dover, N.H. on Tuesday, where the Republican vice presidential candidate made the case for Mitt Romney during a town hall session with voters. New Hampshire has been targeted by the Romney campaign as a critical battleground, where Republicans hope Romney's appeal to moderates can overcome President Barack Obama's current lead and help flip the state red.
Ryan returned to the Granite State after a pair of high profile visits last month, including a joint appearance with Romney, where the Republican candidates criticized Obama on issues like taxes, Medicare and federal spending. Ryan touched on many of those same points during Tuesday's event, in a state where town hall questioners can be notoriously persistent.
But as Ryan ripped the president over spending and insufficient economic growth, he stood in a venue that was bolstered by federal stimulus dollars from 2009's American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.
Dover's McConnell Community Center, the venue for Ryan's town hall, is a shared nonprofit space that provides low cost leases to organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister, UNH Social Work Outreach Program and the Dover Adult Learning Center.
"Our mission shall be to provide adults and children of diverse backgrounds, and the community at large, with opportunities to enrich their lives through programs of education, recreation, arts and culture, and health and human services," reads the center's mission statement.
In 2009, the McConnell Center was granted a portion of a $123,400 award from the Department of Energy as part of a larger effort to improve Dover's energy efficiency. The center spent $82,844 of Recovery Act funds to improve energy efficiency with the intent of cutting operations costs, thus reducing utilities bills for the center's low and middle income tenants.
According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Dover energy efficiency inititative has been highly successful, with officials projecting up to $3.6 million in savings on utilities over the next decade as a result of recent improvements.
The McConnell Center's stimulus-funded success makes it a somewhat awkward choice of venue for Ryan, who has remained a vocal critic of the federal stimulus since voting against the measure in 2009. A Romney spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on the venue selection.
“I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work,” the Wisconsin congressman told told an Ohio television station in August. “It brought us deeper into debt. It was about $1.1 trillion when you add the borrowing cost, it put us deeper in debt and further out of work.”
Many economists disagree with Ryan's assessment of the effects of the stimulus, however. As The New York Times reported, economists estimate that the Recovery Act was responsible for saving or creating 2.5 million jobs. Economists also found that the stimulus contributed to economic growth and kept the unemployment rate from skyrocketing.
Moreover, as the Boston Globe reported last month, Ryan wrote to the Department of Energy in 2009 requesting funding for two Wisconsin-based energy conservation groups. According to the Globe, one of the organizations received $20 million in stimulus funds, while the other was awarded $740,000.
After denying he had sought the funding, Ryan reversed course and claimed he had forgotten that his congressional staff had written the letters using his signature.
"They should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that," he said in a statement.
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