MILWAUKEE -- Democrats are pointing to a jobless rate that dipped to 7.8 percent as good news for President Obama, but vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said the news doesn't blunt the GOP ticket's criticism of the president's jobs record.
In a new WisPolitics.com interview, Ryan said Friday's report was an improvement, but most of the jobs are temporary jobs and the net jobs increase of 114,000 is less than the 150,000 needed to keep up with population growth.
"So what's happening is, the economy is slowing down, job creation is slowing down right now irrespective of that number, so we're going in the wrong direction," Ryan said during the Saturday interview.
Ryan has his first and only vice presidential debate coming up on Thursday, and said he aims to show the voters they have a clear choice.
"Our goal is to show the country the choice they get to make," Ryan said. "We think the president is taking the country in the wrong direction. We clearly don't think the country can afford four more years like the last four years.
"So we have an obligation to give the country a clear alternative, a very clear choice. That's exactly what we intend to do."
He said Obama and Biden have a "terrible record" so they aim to distort, distract and attack and win by default.
"I think people will see through that," Ryan said. "Our job is to show the country we have very specific solutions to get this country's problems under control."
In the interview, Ryan echoed Mitt Romney's comments a few days ago that it was wrong for him to say 47 percent of Americans are dependent upon the government and consider themselves victims.
"We give literally hundreds, if not thousands of speeches; sometimes the words just don't come out right," Ryan said. "In this case they didn't."
Both Romney and Ryan had initially stood by Romney's sentiment but said it was articulated poorly. But Ryan said the point they are trying to make is that under Obama there have been fewer opportunities and more people falling behind, and through no fault of their own, more people have become dependent on government.
"Our goal is to create economic growth and economic opportunity to get them back on the path of self-sufficiency," Ryan said. "To get people within reach of their American dream."
Despite polls showing Obama leading in Wisconsin, Ryan says the state's voters will ultimately turn to Romney.
"Wisconsin has traditionally gone Democratic for president," Ryan said. "But I really believe, based on our experiences with the recalls, based on the fact that people see that we're on the wrong track, we're offering positive solutions, that just like the recalls, people are going to vote for leaders."
“They're going to vote people who they know are actually going to tackle this problem, get people back to work, prevent this debt crisis from occurring,” Ryan said, “and in the final analysis, just like the recalls, I feel very good about it.”
Ryan, who is hosting a fundraiser for Tommy Thompson's U.S. Senate campaign later this month, praised the former governor and was confident that despite being outspent, Thompson would win the seat.
"In the closing moments of this race, it's a very clear choice," Ryan said. "I know Tammy very well, I personally consider her a friend, but she is to the left of Nancy Pelosi. She is to the left of just about every Wisconsinite. I don't think her voting record comports with what most Wisconsinites want to see in their senator."
He praised Thompson as "all Wisconsin" and, pointing to his work on school choice and welfare reform, as a pioneer and policy leader.
"He's exactly the kind of person you want to see go to bat for Wisconsin, because he's been so successful doing it in the past."
Should Ryan become vice president and win re-election to his congressional seat, there would have to be a special election to fill the spot. But he was mum on who might be a good candidate to take his place.
"I'm not touching that with a 10-foot pole," he quipped.
The campaign has kept Ryan on the road a lot, but he says he aims to be home one day each week and his wife, Janna, often joins him on the him on the campaign trail, and was in the room for his interviews today.
His daughter and two boys, he said, have adjusted well and are back to their normal routines.
"It's basically a 90-day sprint," Ryan said. "So I'm away from home more than I normally am, but I've been away from home in Congress an average of four days a week, so they're used to seeing me travel."
Ryan is an avid bow-hunter and has a camouflage case on his smart phone to remind him of his pastime. He said his tree stands are in place and that he hopes to make it home for the fall rut.