As GOP VP pick Paul Ryan finished his first Triangle-area campaign stop, House Democrats called their own press conference to counter his claims.
House Budget Committee Ranking Member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Rep. David Price (D-NC) at NC State in Raleigh today.
Van Hollen is Ryan’s Democratic counterpart on the powerful spending committee. But their events couldn’t have looked much more different.
While a relaxed Ryan worked the stage at a small business near RDU, Rep. David Price and Van Hollen took shelter from a sudden rainstorm under a portico overlooking the Brickyard.
A half-dozen students showed up to hold signs behind Price and Van Hollen, including one, freshman Andrea Cuevas, who spoke against Romney’s position on college loans. Organizers worked the crowd for volunteers to fill out the background, but only one young man stepped up.
About a dozen onlookers gathered, drawn by the spectacle, while other students navigated past it unabated. A pile of unused signs soaked up the steady drizzle.
When the press conference concluded, we asked Van Hollen what Democrats will have to do to get young voters interested and invested in the way they were four years ago.
Van Hollen says he thinks they’re already getting re-engaged. “I’m sensing a lot of momentum amongst students as they’re returning to campuses, and talking amongst themselves and recognizing what’s at stake for them.”
Van Hollen says the Republican budget plan would cut Pell Grants by an average of $830 to more than 254,000 students in NC, including 1 out of 5 students at NCSU.
“When they see the Romney-Ryan plan provide these big tax breaks to the very wealthy at the expense of students and everybody else, they realize that their future is on the line.”
At his event today, Ryan accused Democrats of trying to divide the country, promising that the Republican ticket would seek to unite it.
But Van Hollen said the “Romney-Ryan budget” is “divisive."
“This is an uncompromising document,” he said. “It’s become the Tea Party Manifesto.”
“Rather than saying ‘We’re all in this together’ and calling for shared responsibility, it provides another round of big windfall tax cuts to the very wealthy – to people like Mitt Romney,” said Van Hollen.
“And If you’re serious about reducing the deficit, as we all should be, that means you hit everybody and everything else much harder,” he continued. “You hit seniors on Medicare, you hit middle-income taxpayers who will pay more to help finance tax cuts for the very wealthy, and you hit students very hard, from early education in Head Start right through college.”
Watch the interview above.