TAMPA, Fla. — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chairman of the Democratic National Convention, made an unlikely appearance near the Republican National Convention Hall Monday afternoon.
Armed with Democratic talking points, Villaraigosa argument for keeping President Barack Obama in the White House was focused largely on demonizing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who are set to formally accept their party’s nomination this week.
“In terms of comparing and contrasting, obviously we are here to share with the American people that this election has consequences, that there is a difference between the candidates,” he told a gaggle of reporters, explaining the difference between the Tampa convention and the coming Democratic convention in Charlotte, NC next week.
While he acknowledged that the economy is in trouble and worthy of concern, Villaraigosa said there are aspects of the Romney/Ryan agenda that Americans should find troubling.
“That this is about the economy but it is also about the future that the Ryan/Romney budget is a budget that would extend the Bush tax cuts to the top 2 percent of Americans to provide $250,000 tax cut to millionaires and above. It would do that — most of the analysts have said the Tax Policy Center — by raising taxes on the middle class, cutting Medicare as we know it and undermining investments in education,” he claimed.
Dodging a question about the fact that no Democrats voted for the President’s budget, the Los Angeles mayor explianed that the President’s plan, which would prevent expansion of the Bush tax cuts for the upper 2 percent but to keep taxes for small businesses that are hiring lower, is the superior one.
‘Look we are here because we are going to talk about that this election has consequences and that there is a difference between the two candidates and we are comparing and contrasting the record. Speaking of the record — you know [Romney] was a governor — he was 47th in job production out of 50 states. He put more debt per capita on the people of Massachusetts than anyone in the country in that four year period time,” he said.
Villaraigosa further claimed that Obama has done more for Massachusetts as president than Romney did as governor.
However, and despite his stated belief in the president’s strengths, Villaraigosa said he thought the election will be close.
“At the end of the day this country is evenly divided. This election is going to be very, very close and it is important that people know just what is at stake in this election,” he said.
While his focus is on keeping the White House in Democratic hands this election, Villaraigosa brushed off speculation that he might have presidential aspirations himself, and said his focus now is just completing his term as mayor before taking a “timeout.”
“I see myself working as hard as I can in the last days as Mayor of Los Angeles. June 30, at 11:59 then I am going to take a timeout. That is what I want to do right now, I think it is time to go speak and read and reflect after almost 16 years of public life,” he said, explaining the need for a “time out.”