By MATT MCNAB
TAMPA, Fla.—U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, on Wednesday became the second Maryland Democrat to show up in Tampa to challenge Republicans during their national convention.
But unlike Gov. Martin O'Malley, who spoke at a Democratic Party office across the street on Tuesday, Van Hollen went inside the security perimeter Wednesday evening, doing an interview with Politico before talking to Capital News Service and criticizing the Romney-Ryan plan and the speakers at the convention.
Van Hollen, speaking at the convention center where most of the media is stationed, called the Romney-Plan "wrong for America."
"He's going to double down on windfall tax breaks on the rich like himself," Van Hollen said. "When the rich aren't going to pay a cent more, it's going to come at the expense of students, the middle class, and almost everyone else. President Obama's balanced approach is right for America."
He added that the Romney-Ryan plan would have a "very negative impact on the state of Maryland," because the tax breaks would hurt things like medical research at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
Van Hollen pulled no punches describing Tuesday's convention events. "(Tuesday) night was a straight out personal attack on the president," he said. "What I watched was clearly going after the president."
Maryland Republican Party Chairman Louis Pope called Van Hollen's appearance an attempt to get Democrats media exposure, and supposed that Republicans would have a surrogate in Charlotte doing the same thing next week.
"They are trying to interject Democratic beliefs into a solid Republican setting," he said. "They should stay at their convention and we should stay at ours. They are trying to damage the enthusiasm in America for Mitt Romney. (Van Hollen) is going to be depressed on Nov. 6."