Paul Ryan returns to Wisconsin to adoring crowd
Published: Monday, August 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 13, 2012 12:08
WAUKESHA, Wis. - Brushing aside tears and responding to cheers, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan returned to Wisconsin on Sunday for an emotional homecoming in front of thousands of people on the grounds of the Waukesha County Expo Center.
"It's good to be home," Ryan said in a speech that wove personal history and national aspiration.
A day after he was named Mitt Romney's running mate and vaulted on to the Republican Party's biggest political stage, Ryan spoke of his roots as a fifth-generation Wisconsinite and his ties to Janesville, where "we live on the block I grew up on."
"My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, a little Spotted Cow, Leinie's and some Miller," he said. "I was raised on the Packers, Badgers, Bucks and Brewers.
"I like to hunt here, I like to fish here, I like to snowmobile here. I even think ice fishing is interesting. I'm a Wisconsinite through and through."
He saluted Gov. Scott Walker, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and said, "We're just guys from 'Tosa, Kenosha, Oshkosh and Janesville."
"What we learned in this state, just a little while ago, is that we want to elect men and women who run for office and tell us who they really are, what they really believe, what they're really going to do, and when they get elected, they do that," he said. "That's what we do here in Wisconsin."
Ryan framed the fall campaign between the Republicans and President Barack Obama as a stark choice.
"Do we want that opportunity society, a safety net, a land of upward mobility, where people can make the most of their lives, where people can get ahead?" Ryan said. "Or do we want to go down the path of debt, doubt and despair? Do we want to copy Europe? No."
Roads around the facility were jammed for miles, as thousands of people vied to get an up close and personal view of the GOP's new national ticket.
"This pair is fantastic," said Mary Lou Kavon of Verona, Wis. She called Ryan an outstanding pick by Romney and predicted an energized Republican ticket was on its way to victory.
She said Ryan was a great choice because of his fiscal conservatism and deep knowledge of the federal budget.
Marty Pankow of Hartford, Wis., was equally pumped over Romney's VP choice. Ryan's deficit-cutting fervor is just what the U.S. economy needs, Pankow said.
Sharon Roder of Waukesha said she couldn't be more pleased with the Ryan pick.
"He's a good Christian, outstanding character, just a really incredible guy," Roder said. "He's very conservative, which is very important."
Romney and Ryan campaigned earlier Sunday in North Carolina, which was their first stop the day after the GOP ticket was sealed in Norfolk, Va.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama weighed in on Ryan's selection during a fundraising event in Chicago: "I want to congratulate Mr. Ryan. I know him; I welcome him to the race."
Obama said, "He is a decent man. He is a family man. He is an articulate spokesman of Gov. Romney's vision, but it is a vision that I fundamentally disagree with."
Romney announced his vice presidential pick Saturday morning at the start of a four-day bus tour that would serve as an introduction to Ryan for many voters.
A recent CNN/ORC international poll showed a majority of voters had no opinion of the congressman. Nearly 40 percent had never heard of him and 16 percent weren't sure what they thought of him.
Amid Ryan's high-energy debut, Romney's campaign made one thing clear: Romney's ideas rule, not his running mate's.
Romney put gentle but unmistakable distance between his agenda and Ryan's hot-potato budget proposals on Saturday. But Democrats weren't about to let them off that hook.
On ABC's "This Week," Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod sought to portray Ryan as a radical choice: "It's a pick that is meant to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican party, but it's one that should trouble everybody else _ the middle class, seniors, students _ because of Ryan's record. He is a right-wing ideologue."
(The Tribune Washington Bureau and the Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.)