YOUNGSTOWN - Partisan reaction to Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's address Saturday on the Youngstown State University campus had the Wisconsin congressman looking more ''cool, calm and collected'' than on his televised debate appearance earlier in the week.
''I was probably seated in the fifth row and he was very precise, well spoken and personable. He looked us right in the eye,'' said Damian Hileman of Niles, who owns a small roofing business and who has been a Republican volunteer working the phones and conducting surveys.
Ryan introduced his family and used televised charts to demonstrate to supporters that he and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney have a specific plan to bring lawmakers from both parties together to strengthen the economy.
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan speaks to 1,400 people Saturday morning at Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center.
He said he wants to repair the dependency on foreign aid, oil and health care and reduce the debt.
He spoke to about 1,400 gathered in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center at YSU, including about 200 gathered in an adjoining room to watch the 20 minute town hall address on TV. He then answered a half dozen questions for another 20 minutes before leaving for Bowling Green State University to tailgate and possibly catch a few minutes of a football game with his alma mater, Miami of Ohio.
Prior to the address by Ryan, who joked about often getting his mail mixed up with local Congressman Timothy J. Ryan, D-Niles, the local lawmaker offered his own rebuttal at the corner of Wick and Lincoln streets in front of Jones Hall:
''There's two Ryans and there are two policies,'' Timothy Ryan said. ''Around here, our seniors depend on their Medicaid. (Romney and Paul Ryan) want to cut it by $800 billion. Third party analysts say their proposal could cost Medicare recipients $6,000 per year. Their position is made up of makeup and lipstick. It's not good for the country or our kids.''
The local lawmaker said his colleague from Wisconsin clearly didn't ''pass the threshold for someone that could wind up as president. Especially when it comes to foreign policy.''
Area Democrats also panned Paul Ryan's politics in advance of his visit.
Hank Sadinsky, a retired steelworker from Youngstown, said, "I certainly don't want privatization of Medicare and Social Security. Had Congressman (Paul) Ryan been successful in his push for Social Security privatization earlier in his career, we all would have lost anything that resembles a secure retirement," he said.
Juanita James, a retiree from Cortland, said, "When you listen to Romney and Ryan on the campaign trail, it's almost as if they have no idea what or who they are talking about. ... It seems like they are prioritizing the interests of those who need the help the least, and leaving the rest of us out in the cold.''
But retired Mineral Ridge teacher John Yasich of Niles, who attended the Saturday event, said he's voting the Republican ticket despite being a registered Democrat.
''Bush started the GM bailout and Obama only continued it. My health care has gone up and Obama's figures don't add up. I think the states should be more involved. Let (the states) do it. They know more of what's needed locally.
Boardman physician Dr. Robert Gilliland called it ''an excellent speech'' and ''more detail than we got on TV.''
''I liked his presentation of the problems and how he's going to fix it,'' Gilliland said.
Before he left Youngstown, Ryan stopped at a soup kitchen, where he thanked volunteers and washed dishes with his family.
''We're trillions in the hole and we haven't had a budget for three years. The president gives speeches and never has a plan to put on the table,'' Ryan said.
''You're either part of the problem or part of the solution,'' he said quoting his deceased father. "We're on an unsustainable economic path.''
He said Romney's plan to bolster the middle class involves getting people jobs and paying the debt down.
''And most of the jobs will come from small businesses,'' he said, adding that Romney proved successful in Massachusetts in making a turnaround despite a Democratic-controlled legislature.
Ryan likened his hometown of Janesville, Wis., to Youngstown.
''They're similar areas, with a history in manufacturing. We need to make more things to sell overseas.
''They called us (Janesville) Detroit West. We lost a GM plant.''
At different points during the address, Ryan blurted out ''Go, Penguins!'' and thanked a priest in the audience for blessing him.
Campaigning in the Deomcratic stronghold, speakers at the podium before Ryan included J.D. Williams of Liberty, who introduced himself as a Democrat who was ''proud to vote for Romney.''
Williams was an unsuccessful state representative candidate for Ohio's 65th District in the 2010 Democratic primary.
But he got the crowd going by identifying Ryan as a ''self-proclaimed Catholic deer hunter.''
Ryan's camp also used advance remarks from Mark Bedenik, a UAW member who showed off the union seal on his T-shirt before proclaiming that President Obama was ''insulting to blue collar workers.''
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, was scheduled to attend an afternoon rally at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth and then head to another rally in Lebanon in southwestern Ohio.
Both sides are working to shift voters in their direction with the state still up for grabs.
President Barack Obama urged a crowd at Ohio State University this week to vote early. The Democrat is scheduled to visit Athens in southeast Ohio on Wednesday.
First lady Michelle Obama will be in Cleveland and central Ohio on Monday.
Ryan threw credit to Ohio Gov. John Kasich for ''turning things around'' in Ohio.
Jason Csehi of Ashtabula County said, ''I think Paul Ryan knows his facts and he backs things up with facts. This wasn't the same as we saw with the Biden debate.''
Bittney Murphy of Hubbard said, ''I thought Paul Ryan was charismatic. He has a plan and that's what I need. Not any more hope and change. That's too abstract.
''I'm underemployed with no health insurance and a lot of debt,'' said Murphy, who held up her sign near where vendors were selling Romney-Ryan pins, hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.