Emotional Homecoming for Paul Ryan
By Rachel Streitfeld, CNN Political Producer
Waukesha, Wisconsin (CNN) — The Republican presidential ticket capped off a whirlwind swing-state tour with an emotional outdoor rally Sunday night in Wisconsin.
Supporters in Rep. Paul Ryan’s home state gave their native son a hero’s welcome, prompting the vice presidential candidate to wipe away tears and let loose a stream of local references that delighted his audience.
“My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, and a little Spotted Cow, Leiney’s and some Millers,” he proclaimed, listing off Wisconsin-made beers to audience laughter.
Standing alongside Romney, who has been criticized for lacking a common-man approach, Ryan continued: “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.”
The campaign said more than 13,000 people attended the outdoor event, where sophisticated camera equipment suggested the two men’s appearance could make its way into a future commercial.
Romney — who said he and his wife Ann also choked up to see the support for Ryan — seemed to feed off the energy of the audience.
When a protester disrupted the event, Romney thundered back in response.
“You see young man, this group here is respectful of other people’s right to be heard,” Romney said as the audience chanted “U.S.A.” in his support. “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 continued his escalating attacks against President Barack Obama’s re-election effort.
“There’s no question if you follow the campaign of Barack Obama, he’s going to do everything in his power to make this the lowest, meanest, negative campaign in history,” Romney said. “We’re not going to let that happen. This is going to be a campaign about ideas, the future of America. This is a campaign about greatness, about America’s future for your children, for the world.”
“Mr. President, take your campaign out of the gutter and talk about the real issues that America faces,” Romney declared.
After the event, Ryan and Romney were slated to campaign separately. Ryan will visit the Iowa State Fair Monday while Romney will continue his bus tour in Florida.
In a conversation on their campaign bus before the rally, Romney and Ryan appeared to feel the first pangs of separation anxiety.
“Do we ever get a chance to campaign together or is that like, we’ve now experienced that…?” Romney asked.
Ryan responded laughingly: “Does that ever happen again?”
“Do I get to see him until the inauguration?” Romney chuckled in return.
— CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.