This post has been updated.
BLUFFTON, S.C. — Donald Trump on Wednesday seemed to blame Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential election on his running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who is now speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"That was the end of that campaign, by the way, when they chose Ryan," Trump said during a campaign event at a retirement community in South Carolina's Lowcountry. "And I like him. He's a nice person, but that was the end of the campaign."
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Trump's comment came as he answered a question about Social Security from state Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R), who asked the candidate a series of questions during a 30-minute fireside-chat-style campaign event before an audience of about 500.
Trump claimed that he is the only candidate who will not cut Social Security benefits and that he will save the program by "making our country rich" by boosting the economy, bringing back jobs from overseas and cutting "disgusting waste" in the budget.
Trump said that Romney was hurt by Ryan's previous calls to change Social Security and other entitlement programs for the elderly. Shortly after Republican nominee Romney picked Ryan as his running mate during the 2012 election, the progressive policy group Agenda Project Action Fund ran an ad attacking Ryan's stance on Medicare that showed an elderly woman in a wheelchair being thrown off a cliff by a man in a dark suit. The message on the screen: "Mitt Romney made his choice. ... Now you have to make yours."
"Every single other candidate is going to cut the hell out of your Social Security — remember the wheelchair being pushed over the cliff when you had Ryan chosen as your vice president?" Trump said at the event at the retirement community. "That was the end of that campaign, by the way, when they chose Ryan. And I like him, he's a nice person, but that was the end of the campaign. I said, 'You've got to be kidding — because he represented cutting entitlements, et cetera, et cetera.' The only one that's not going to cut is me."
Exit polls from the 2012 election show that more voters over the age of 65 voted for Romney and Ryan than Obama and Biden, with the Republican candidates winning that age group by 12 percentage points. That's higher than in 2008 when Republican nominee John McCain won that age group by 8 percentage points or in 2004 when George W. Bush won it by 5 percentage points.