Ryan blasts Obama over defense cuts in Virginia

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a campaign stop at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Va., Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Paul Ryan
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

(CBS News) SPRINGFIELD, Va. - Returning to Virginia less than a week after his candidacy was announced, vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan on Friday made a foray into national security issues as he criticized President Obama for looming defense cuts -- sparing his party from blame -- and warned America's foes to respect a President Romney.

Ryan, who spoke in a Northern Virginia suburban area that is heavily dependent on defense spending, blamed the president for looming $500 billion in cuts to the Pentagon and other national security agencies.

"In the House, we already passed the bill to cut spending in other areas of government to make sure these devastating cuts to defense never occur and we don't put Virginians out of work and so we have a strong national defense. That's extremely important," Ryan said, calling the defense cuts a "lack of leadership" from Obama.

While he suggested the cuts were mandated solely by the administration, it was an agreement between both houses of Congress and the White House to institute mandatory cuts to defense spending and other programs if Congress was unable to cut other areas of the budget by the end of 2012.

An Associated Press "fact check" in July after Mitt Romney made a similar claim said that Romney "ignores the central role that Congress played last summer in setting the stage for such a massive cut in the Pentagon's budget."

The House-passed bill to which Ryan referred passed in May without a single Democratic vote and has no chance of passing in the Democratically-controlled Senate. The bill would swap defense cuts for sharp reductions in spending for social programs, specifically Medicaid and food stamp spending, and reduce money for Obama's health care reform law while taking away the ability of regulators to wind down failing financial firms and end a White House program meant to assist struggling homeowners.

Ryan also weighed in on comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel is a "tumor" that needs to be wiped out.

"Let me be really clear: Under President Romney, our adversaries will think twice about challenging America and our allies because we believe in peace through strength. There will be no daylight between America and our friends around the world," he said.

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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