Gov. Dannel P. Malloy took big swings at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a wonkish, 6½-minute, televised speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday evening that dissected policy details and denounced the budget plan of the GOP running mate as a "raw deal."
"Mitt Romney has said that if he was president and Paul Ryan's budget passed, he would sign it into law," Malloy told the convention audience in Charlotte, N.C. "So let's talk about what it would mean."
Malloy declared that the budget plan devised by Romney's vice presidential candidate, the representative from Wisconsin, would "shred the safety net" and erode investments in the nation's future by slashing Medicaid programs, voucherizing Medicare and enacting significant cuts to education — from Head Start through college assistance. The "Romney-Ryan budget," he said, "isn't conservative. It's harsh, it's radical and it is wrong."
The Ryan-devised budget passed the Republican-controlled U.S. House this year but was voted down in the Democratic-majority Senate.
"All these cuts are being done so Romney can give a tax cut of $265,000 to your average millionaire and continue billions of dollars in subsidies for big oil," Malloy claimed.
In his biggest applause line of the night, Malloy said the Romney-Ryan budget "would undermine FDR's New Deal, unravel Harry Truman's Fair Deal and leave us with Mitt Romney's raw deal."
The governor came on stage at about 7 p.m. following a fiery and emotionally-stirring speech by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. The audience offered applause and a few cheers throughout Malloy's address, but looked on television to be catching its breath.
"In politics, you don't want to follow the person who sings 'The Star-Spangled Banner' or a great icon like that," Malloy said lightheartedly in his introduction.
Malloy, dressed in a suit with a green and white-striped tie, gave the second speech of the night by a member of Connecticut's delegation. No member of Connecticut's GOP delegation spoke at last week's Republican National Convention.
U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st, chairman in Washington of the House Democratic Caucus, on Wednesday evoked his personal biography of growing up in an East Hartford housing project as one of eight children. His dad, since deceased, worked as a fireman at Pratt & Whitney and gradually built up his pension.
Larson said his aged mother now requires around-the-clock medical care for her multiple sclerosis, dementia and heart disease, and uses "every penny" of government benefits and his father's pension.
"Don't ever tell me or any American that that's a hand-out," he said. "It's the insurance they paid for."
The Connecticut congressman also praised the president's national health care law and chided Republicans who derisively call it "Obamacare."
"News flash to the Republicans," Larson said, "Obama does care."
Malloy's speech referenced the recent push in some parts of the country for stricter voter ID requirements, stating that Republicans in 19 states are trying to disenfranchise millions of blacks, Hispanic and senior voters.
"In Connecticut, we're expanding [voting rights] and making it easier for people to register and to vote," said Malloy, who this spring signed legislation that will allow Election Day voter registration starting with the 2013 municipal elections.
The governor said the president and "we Democratic governors" have a more compassionate approach to making government cheaper and efficient. He also called for national investments in high-speed rail, clean energy, new roads, education, medical research and affordable health care.
Malloy said Obama has helped create four million private-sector jobs and signed into law "$2 trillion in spending cuts" that have brought annual domestic spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the 1950s.
However, The Washington Times has disputed the president's claim to those $2 trillion in cuts. The newspaper's conservative editorial page asserted that the number was based on a study that excluded the $831 million in spending in the 2009 stimulus and used rosy projections for economic growth.
Larson, like Malloy, also accused Romney and Ryan of wanting to demolish benefits programs.
"Are we going to let them destroy the safety net of Medicare just so the Romneys of this world can wire even more money into their Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts?" Larson said.
Malloy said Republicans want to take away abortion rights even in cases of rape, and noted how his wife, Cathy, ran a rape crisis center for 11 years.
"That's why there are three simple reasons to support Barack Obama over Mitt Romney: Your sister, your mother and your daughter."
Whoops and shouts erupted from Connecticut delegates when Malloy appeared on stage, and many reached for cellphones and iPads to snap a picture of the governor. Although some delegates were chatting or texting before the governor's appearance, they were fully engaged in Malloy's speech and burst into applause at many of his statements.
The most enthusiastic cheering came when Malloy reaffirmed his support for women's issues.
After the speech, which received a standing ovation from the Connecticut contingent, delegate Matha Aasen of Westport said that she was proud to have a governor like Malloy. "Dan [Malloy] has a real gift. He says exactly what needs to be said in a way which totally reaches you, both with head and heart."
Michelle James of Danbury said the governor was "right on point." She appreciated the governor's support for women's rights, saying that, as a wife and a mother, it is one of the most important issues in the election. James, who works with AmeriCares to provide healthcare to underinsured and uninsured patients, also considers health care a critical issue.
"Connecticut is in the forefront of the country because of the leadership of Governor Malloy," James said.
Kelly Catalfamo, special to The Day, contributed to this report.