GREENVILLE, N.C. - GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan delivered a rebuke of the Obama administration Monday, in the same state where Democrats are set to kickoff their national convention.

Invoking a theme Ronald Reagan made famous during a 1980 debate against Jimmy Carter, Ryan slammed the president before a crowd of thousands gathered in Greenville.

"The president has no record to run on. In fact every president since the Great Depression who asked Americans to send them into a second term could say that you were better off than you were four years ago except for Jimmy Carter and for President Barack Obama," Ryan said.

Ryan also pressed North Carolinians not to buy the hype he says will be coming out of Charlotte.

"The president can say a lot of things and he will, but he can't tell you that you are better off. Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now."

The message will be repeated by Republicans all week as they try to steal some of the spotlight from the DNC, and to seize some post-convention momentum of their own.

Here in the battleground state of North Carolina, a new Elon University/Charlotte Observer Poll released Monday shows Mitt Romney leading Obama, 47 percent to 43 percent. On who would handle the economy better, Romney leads, 52 percent to 39 percent.

Democrats were quick to rebut the GOP's new line of attack.

"It's no surprise that America's 'Go Back Team' is spending their time waxing nostalgic about how things were three decades ago," Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said.

"The truth is that under the president's leadership, we've gone from losing 800,000 jobs a month to adding 4.5 million jobs over the last 29 months of private sector job growth. But instead of the president's forward-looking vision for an economy built from the middle out, Mitt Romney and Congressman Ryan want to take us back to the same top-down policies that caused the collapse."