Fort Myers, Florida (CNN) – Women’s issues permeated a campaign stop with Paul Ryan as the GOP vice presidential nominee warned of tax increases and changes to Medicare in central Florida Thursday.
At the town hall-style event that drew an audience of 2,100 to Ocala Downtown Square, approximately 30 people lined up on one side of the security perimeter, held up signs and shouted comments in support of Democratic President Barack Obama.
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Their view was blocked by tiered press risers but they could watch the town hall unfold from a large projection screen that showed a woman ask Mitt Romney's running mate if the Republican ticket has "any plan in place for jobs specifically for women?"
The question came on the heels of Tuesday night's debate when Romney was ridiculed for his "whole binders full of women" remark to a question about pay inequality. With 19 days until Election Day both campaigns have stepped up efforts to appeal to women voters.
Ryan focused on how women have fared during the Obama administration and claimed the president “took his eye off the ball of growing the economy.”
He said, "Over 5 million women have just left the work force. Fewer women are working today than when he took office. And so of the people who have been hit the hardest, it's women."
"[W]e've got to champion small businesses which are the kinds of companies that have flexible job schedules that women can get easily back in to the work force," continued Ryan. "And of all the things we can do to get women back into the workforce, get them the skills they need, get an economy, and help those small businesses bring them back into the work force so they can provide for themselves and their families."
On the perimeter Democratic supporters wore "Women for Obama" t-shirts and carried handmade signs, including one that said, "Keep your mitts of women's rights." Before Ryan came on stage when they chanted "four more years," Romney-Ryan supporters' retort was "NO more years."
Focusing his line of criticism about the president on the economy, the seven-term House member added to the chorus of criticism, including from his running mate, for the recent bankruptcy of battery maker A123 Systems, a "green energy" company that received federal subsidies from stimulus funding.
"Ninety billion went to green energy companies that had great connections, were political donors, and what we got out of it were things like Fisker and A123 and Solyndra, bankruptcies. It was the government picking winners and losers. The government's sending your hard-earned tax dollars to these well connected companies then poof a lot of them go bankrupt," Paul said.
In the crucial battleground state rich with senior voters, Ryan warned that if Obama wins a second term taxes will increase and Medicare coverage will change.
“We know that we have starting on January a new $2 trillion tax increase that’s going to hit our economy. We know that as many as 20 million Americans could lose the health insurance they have - or Humana Gold, Medicare Complete - we know that his own people at Medicare are telling us 7.4 million seniors will lose the Medicare plan that they have chosen for themselves. We know that he’s going to take $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare if he got a second term.”
Under the Florida sun in 82-degree heat the Wisconsin lawmaker likened the presidential election to a job interview and said the incumbent was not offering anything new.
"Now my fellow House members here, our job has always been to listen to our employers. Mitt Romney and I are applying for a job. You are our employers. We the people run the government not the other way around. The government works for the people. The government doesn't run the people," said Paul.
"Now, have you noticed these debates lately? Have you noticed something? President Obama is not telling you what his second term plan would be. He's not saying that he's offering anything new. All he's offering is four more years of the same."
Ryan wrapped up the day with a fundraiser and campaign rally in Fort Myers.
At the fundraiser held at Old Collier Golf Club that raised approximately $1.2 million for the Republican election efforts, Ryan accused Democrats of inflating the “war on women” because they are hurting in the polls.
“They're not doing well, the polls are going in the wrong direction for them, so they're going to get even more desperate. They're going to do everything to try and divide. Now it's a war on women. Tomorrow it's going to be a war on left-landed Irishmen or something like that,” Ryan joked to the crowd of donors.