Ryan's hope: Pa. votes ... and $

Rep. Paul Ryan , in his first area stop as V.P. candidate, speaks about defense at the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester.
Rep. Paul Ryan , in his first area stop as V.P. candidate, speaks about defense at the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester. (TOM GRALISH / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: August 23, 2012

SOME OF PHILADELPHIA'S rich and richer paid as much as $4,000 a minute Tuesday night to see and hear America's newest political sensation - GOP vice presidential pick Paul Ryan - salute their upward mobility and accuse President Obama of working to make the United States more like debt-ridden and politically paralyzed Greece.

"The president speaks to people as if they are stuck in their station in life, victims of circumstances beyond their control, and government is there to help them cope with it," the Wisconsin congressman and Mitt Romney running mate told a fundraiser at the venerable Union League in Center City. "That's Greece, that's not America."

The House Budget Committee chairman also told his Philadelphia audience that Pennsylvania has a lot in common with his native Badger State. "We're states of hardworking entrepreneurial people who make things, who grow things, who sell things - and we take pride in it," Ryan said. "It's a good thing if people are successful in life. We take pride in that. We don't resent that."

It wasn't immediately clear what Ryan thinks about the other 48 states.

The Philadelphia event didn't draw a big crowd - just 120 people - but it did bring in big bucks. Organizers predicted that the event would raise $500,000 for the victory effort of the Romney-Ryan ticket and the Republican National Committee. Attendees paid a minimum of $2,500 to get in the door and as much as $50,000 for a private meet-and-greet with Ryan, who spoke for only 12 minutes.

The host for the event was Alan Miller, chairman and CEO of Universal Health Systems Inc., which is based in suburban King of Prussia and manages acute-care hospitals and other health-care facilities. Failed 2012 GOP White House hopeful Rick Santorum had served on Universal's board.

Meanwhile, there was a raucous atmosphere on South Broad Street, both because of the buzz generated by Romney's recent selection of the youthful hero of the Republican Party's conservative wing and because his presence in the liberal bastion of Center City drew a healthy crowd of protesters.

Chanting "We are the 99 percent!" many of the roughly 100 demonstrators said that Ryan's fiscal proposals would benefit wealthy Americans like the ones who could afford a ticket and go inside Tuesday's event.

For West Philadelphia resident Denise Robinson, joining the protest was important enough to put the celebration of her 55th birthday Tuesday on hold.

"What brings me here is Paul Ryan with his greedy side," Robinson said. "I'm here for my grandchildren so they don't have to live through Paul Ryan and Romney."

The Union League was Ryan's second local stop. In West Chester, he used a helicopter museum as a pro-military backdrop to blast some $55 billion in defense-spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January, blaming Obama for the impasse.

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