As Democrats began gathering Monday for their nominating convention in Charlotte, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan brought the fight directly to them in North Carolina, hitting President Obama hard on the question of whether Americans are better off now than when Obama took office.

“He can’t tell you that you’re better off,” Ryan said at an appearance in Greenville. “Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are now.”

A day after Democratic leaders were mostly mum on the subject — and Maryland’s governor, Democrat Martin O’Malley, even agreed with a questioner that Americans were not better off — the Obama campaign responded aggressively to the attack Monday.

“Folks, let me make something clear — say it to the press,” Vice President Biden said during a campaign stop in Detroit. “America is better off today than they left us when they left. . . . Let me just sum it up this way, folks. . . . Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”

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