From Felicia Sonmez in Manchester, N.H.:
In remarks at a fundraiser here Saturday night, Paul Ryan paid tribute to astronaut Neil Armstrong as a man who represented "the epitome of the American vision."
"We lost a great American today," Ryan said of Armstrong, who died Saturday at 82. "I just think it's only fitting and proper that we pay respect to Neil Armstrong. We lost him today. This is a man who proved that we can imagine big things, who showed that in America, you can set very lofty goals and accomplish them."
He added: "Neil Armstrong is the epitome of American vision, American power, American creativity and how we can set the horizons and achieve our goals. It is a fitting example of kind of the decision that we make today. We have a really big choice."
Ryan, the first White House candidate to belong to Generation X, was not yet born when Armstrong in 1969 became the first person to set foot on the moon. In his remarks to an audience of about 75 people in a small ballroom at the downtown Manchester Radisson Hotel, Ryan largely stuck to his stump speech, although he departed from his typical remarks in paying tribute to Armstrong and at another moment when he described to the crowd two "tipping points" facing America -- the country’s mounting debt and Americans’ growing dependency on the federal government.
The latter tipping point "is more cultural," Ryan said. "It’s the idea of America. It’s the kind of nature of our country and of our people."
He cited a report by the Tax Foundation think tank that he said shows that "70 percent of Americans today get more benefit from the federal government in dollar value than they pay in taxes."
"So, the tipping point we worry about is, are we going to have a country where the majority of able-bodied Americans are becoming more dependent upon the government for their livelihood than upon themselves?" he asked. "Are we going from ‘Live Free or Die’ to a European social welfare state?"
Ryan was introduced at the event by state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), who Ryan described as "a rock star, bona fide."
Also with Ryan at the fundraiser were his sister, Janet Rock; his brother-in-law, Bill Rock; and his uncle, Dr. Dolph Hutter. The three live in Boston, but Ryan joked to the crowd: "We go to Manchester more often than Boston these days."