WAUKESHA, Wis. – It was an emotional homecoming for Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. Just 48 hours after he snuck out his back door to make his way to the announcement of his vice presidential candidacy in Norfolk, Va., he returned as a home-state hero.
Thousands cheered for Ryan and his family as they took the stage in the Waukesha County Expo Center. A visibly emotional Ryan wiped tears from his eyes as he joked that half the crowd -- estimated by the campaign at 10,000 -- was made up of his relatives. He is a fifth generation Wisconsinite and many Ryans have resided in nearby Janesville.
"My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, a little Spotted Cow, Leiney's, and some Miller. 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," Ryan said, calling out his favorite state foods and sports teams. "I'm a Wisconsinite through and through, and I just got to tell you how much this means to be home."
Voters in the audience said they were proud of Ryan’s ascension to the national stage and it made them more excited about voting for Mitt Romney, who will become the GOP presidential nominee in Tampa late this month.
"It's great to have a local guy on the ticket," said Dale Sanders of Waukesha. Nancy Stutler of Hartland, Wis., predicted, "We have a very good chance of winning."
A handful of protestors interrupted the sentimental mood, but Romney appeared unfazed and offered the shouters a civics lesson. “You see young man, this group here is respectful of other people’s rights to be heard,” he said to one of the disrupters. “And you ought to find yourself a different place to be disruptive, because here we believe in listening to people with dignity and respect.”
Romney then took the opportunity to lace into President Obama, calling on him to elevate the tone of the campaign. “Mr. President, take your campaign out of the gutter. Let’s talk about the real issues that America faces,” he said, his voice raised as the crowd cheered its approval.
Both campaigns have been running highly negative ads and charging each other with playing dirty politics.