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LAKEWOOD, Colo--Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan took the stage before 2,600 supporters at Lakewood High School Tuesday to promote Mitt Romney's energy proposals, but he had another agenda.
Interlaced throughout his speech were subtle, but clear, references to Ryan's common-man appeal. Over the course of his nearly 20-minute address, Ryan discussed working at McDonald's, shelling out more than $100 at the pump to fill up his gas tank, camping and fishing with his family, climbing the Colorado "14ers"--a reference to the state's mountain peaks above 14,000 feet--and that he recently taught his boys "how to cook a meal on the fire."
In short: I'm one of you.
First, Ryan let it be known that he drives a truck--a big truck--using the anecdote to knock President Barack Obama's record on energy.
"The last time I was filling my truck up, it cost 100 bucks," Ryan said. "The only reason it cost 100 bucks is because the pump cut me off at at 100 dollars. I didn't even fill the gas tank! Enough! We have our own oil and gas. We have nuclear. We have all of the above: Wind, solar, coal. Let's use it. Let's make us energy independent."
He also reminded the audience that growing up, he developed a work ethic through service jobs.
"I don't know about you," Ryan told the spirited crowd that filled the high school's gymnasium, "but when I was growing up, you know, when I was flippin' burgers at McDonald's, when I was standing in front of that big Hobart machine washing dishes or waiting tables, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I thought to myself, I'm the American dream on a path and journey so that I can find happiness however I can find it myself."
The speech was part of the campaign roll-out of what he called the "the Romney-Ryan plan for a stronger middle class," which Ryan said would focus on eliminating federal environmental regulations, promoting domestic energy sources and reducing the national debt.
The vice presidential contender plans to hold a second rally Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas before attending what campaign aides are describing as a private "finance meeting" with a small group of supporters at the Venetian Hotel.