KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said Thursday that he wants the Republican campaign message to be so detailed and compelling that Mitt Romney will be elected president "by acclamation."
The Wisconsin congressman said at a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser at a Knoxville hotel that the GOP message contrasts with what he called the divisive tactics of President Barack Obama in the closely contested race.
"Since he can't run on hope and change and all these new promises – because the last ones have been mostly broken – he will have to divide this country. He will have to distort and distract and try to win by default," Ryan said of the Democratic president. "We want to win by acclamation."
"We want to win by saying, here's who we are, here's what we believe, here's what we're going to do," he said. "And if you elect us, hold us accountable and let's get this done."
Acclamation can be generally defined as an eager expression of praise or approval, though as a political term it is perhaps best known from when delegates forgo a formal roll call in party nominating conventions for a voice vote.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam introduced Ryan at the luncheon and said the event had raised about $1 million for the ticket. Meanwhile, about a dozen protesters lined the street outside the event, banging drums and waving signs criticizing Republican policies.
Polls show Obama widening his lead in several key states amid backlash from a leaked video in which Romney disparages the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income tax as government-dependent Obama supporters who see themselves as victims and won't take responsibility for their own lives.
Ryan in his 16-minute speech to the 300 paying attendees described what he called a "generation transforming" election and criticized Obama's record and philosophy on issues including the economy, welfare and health care.
"It's really a choice between the traditional American ideal of an opportunity society with a safety net, a society of growth and prosperity and upward mobility," he said. "Or the path we're on of a more entrenched welfare state, which inevitably ends up with a debt crisis."
Obama's control over federal budget matters and the national economy needs to come to an end, Ryan said.
"If you want to see how this movie ends – because we've seen this movie before – turn on the TV and see what's happening in Europe," he said.
Ryan criticized a provision in Obama's health care law that that requires contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans, despite objections by religious organizations. He said that move is a preview of how Obama would govern in a second term.
"When you see him do things like this in a tough election year, imagine what he would do if he was uninhibited from ever having to face the voters again," he said.