WASHINGTON – Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan accused President Barack Obama of inaccurately portraying Republican positions using straw man arguments in a Friday speech at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. He also accused the president and Democrats of giving up their "pretense of moderation" on the issue of abortion.
A straw man argument is when one misrepresents an opponent's argument by ascribing a position to them that they do not actually hold.
"No politician is more skilled at striking heroic poses against imaginary adversaries, nobody is better at rebuking nonexistent opinions. Barack Obama does this all the time, and in this campaign we are going to call him on it," Ryan said.
These straw man arguments include, according to Ryan, Obama's critics are just pessimistic about the country, Republicans are anti-government, and people who question Obama's policies lack compassion.
Striking a familiar Republican refrain, Ryan argued that Obama's leadership has worsened the economy, citing joblessness, decline in family income and high rates of poverty. If anyone points out these facts, Ryan said, Obama accuses them of "just being negative and pessimistic about the country."
Ryan also said he preferred a smaller, less intrusive government. But when he makes this argument, Ryan complained, Obama accuses him of being "anti-government."
"President Obama frames the debate this way because, here again, it's the only kind of debate he can win -- against straw man arguments," Ryan said.
The third straw man argument Ryan accused Obama of making was that those who disagree with his policy goals must do so because they lack compassion.
"Who else would question him but those mean people who think that everybody has to go it alone and fend for themselves? 'We're all in this together;' it has a nice ring. For everyone who loves this country, it's not only true but obvious," Ryan said.
On this issue, Ryan argued that, to the contrary, Obama must lack compassion because he fails to defend the lives of the unborn. He also referenced the Democratic Party's recent decision to strike the phrase saying that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare" and add a phrase calling for government funding for abortion in its platform.
"Giving up any further pretense of moderation on this issue, and in complete disregard for millions of pro-life Democrats, President Obama has chosen to pander to the most extreme elements of his party. In the Clinton years, the stated goal was to make abortion safe, legal and rare. But that was a different time and a different president. Now, apparently, the Obama-Biden ticket stands for an absolute, unqualified right to abortion at any time, under any circumstance, and even at taxpayer expense," Ryan said.
The Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of social conservatives, began on Thursday and will continue until Sunday. Over 2,000 are expected to attend. Sponsors include FRC Action, an affiliate of Family Research Council, The Heritage Foundation, Liberty Counsel, American Values, and AFA Action, an affiliate of the American Family Association.