Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan appealed to Michiganders on a very personal level Monday night on the campus of Oakland University.
Speaking to an estimated crowd of 2,000 with another 1,000 in an overflow room, Ryan's 30-minute speech was peppered with the Michigan connections between the candidate and the crowd he was addressing.
From references to Michigan State's "thumping" of the Wisconsin Badgers last year to the fact that "overseas means across Lake Superior to us," Ryan was clearly feeling neighborly.
He even took credit for a certain Detroit Tiger: ("You got Prince Fielder from us," he said. "He's still a hero to us in Milwaukee.")
"If you draw a line from Muskegon straight across the lake, that's where I'm from," Ryan said of his hometown of Janesville. He continued to talk about the automotive industry in Janesville, referring to it as a "GM town" and said, "Trust me, I come from Detroit West. We know we need a healthy auto sector. We want a stronger auto sector."
Ryan spoke of watching childhood friends lose jobs at the plants and making sure workers "get skills to get them back on their feet. And you do that with a growing economy," he said.
To grow the economy Ryan explained he and Romney's five-point plan, which includes energy devolpment, international trade agreements, workforce training and education, cutting the budget and reducing regulations to help small business.
Ryan's visit to Rochester followed the release of poll results that showed Obama has a 3 percentage point lead over Romney, closing in on the gap that was 10 percentage points last month, according to the Detroit Free Press.
'Time to decide'
After opening remarks that included thank-yous to the OU Grizzlies, Kid Rock, Candice Miller and Pete Hoekstra, Ryan said that it is "time to decide what kind of country we're going to have."
Read Local GOPs — and One Rock Star — Pump Up the Party at Ryan Rally
While acknowleging that President Obama came into a tough situation, "he didn't make anything better," Ryan said.
"He went from hope and change to attack and blame," Ryan said. "We want to earn your support. We want to deserve this victory. We owe you a choice — specific solutions, specific ideas. One core idea is this: stop spending money we don't have."
Ryan also addressed running-mate Romney's leadership skills.
"Mitt Romney is a leader. He's a man who knows how to run things. Being successful in business is a good thing— we want more of that."
The Democrats responded to Ryan with a statement released within minutes after the rally ended Monday night.
"Congressman Ryan brought both his temper and penchant for dishonesty to Michigan today," said Matt McGrath, an Obama for America campaign spokesman. "Ryan told supporters that Romney knows we need a strong auto industry – but Romney would have just ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’
"The American people have come to expect stunning dishonesty from Congressman Ryan and Mitt Romney, but the truth is their policies would be devastating for middle class families.”
'The most important election of your generation'
Repeating a theme that was heard throughout the night, Ryan called the Nov. 6 election "the most important election of your generation."
He again called on midwestern imagery to bring his final message home to the cheering crowd.
"America is more than the Great Lakes. It's more than the Packers or the Lions, more than the Tigers or the Brewers. It's more than a flag. It's a very special idea," he said.
"Our job is to preserve this."
Ryan reminded the crowd that his ticket has a Michigander and a Wisconsinite and then he called on the Michigan crowd.
"We can do it here. We'll look back at this moment. We need your help, Michigan.
"Let's go out and get this done."
Did you attend the rally? What did you think of the message?
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