Vice-presidential candidate visits Charlottesville
Paul Ryan aims to bolster running mate's image, support Republican congressional campaigns
Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan visited Charlottesville Thursday for a rally outside the Crutchfield Corporation promoting Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and local Republicans running for Congress.
With 12 days before the general election, both Republican and Democratic campaigns have paid great attention to Albemarle County, an important area up for grabs in the swing state of Virginia. This is the first visit a member of the Republican presidential ticket has paid to Charlottesville, an area that ordinarily tilts blue.
A recent Rasmussen poll showed Romney in a near dead heat with President Barack Obama, with a margin of error of four points. The same is true for former Republican Gov. George Allen, who faces former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine for the open U.S. Senate seat. There have been no public polls released of Rep. Robert Hurt’s (VA-5) race against Gen. John Douglass, a Democrat, but Hurt defeated incumbent Democratic incumbent Tom Perriello by a narrow margin in 2010 and pundits expect him to retain his seat.
Fanny packs, visors and camo hats sporting “Romney Ryan” decorated the crowd. Early arrivers found seats on the bleachers where one veteran carefully corrected those chanting “Romney” and “Ryan” by demonstrating the proper cadence of each of the candidate’s names.
Near the start of the rally, more students and suits began to appear in the audience.
Susan Allen, George Allen’s wife, spoke first after introductions, saying, “This campaign is about jobs.” She directed her message toward women in particular. Hurt came onstage next, introducing Ryan to the biggest Republican rally in Charlottesville in a generation.
Beginning by acknowledging Charlottesville’s status as a college town, Ryan reached out to students, citing a statistic suggesting 50 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed or unemployed.
“We’re growing [the economy] at 1.3 percent,” Ryan said. “That’s fledgling.”
Echoing the message of change Obama put forth in the 2008 election, Ryan told the audience the president has yet to put out a plan balancing the budget, warning voters against “more of the same.”
Democrats have countered such allegations by criticizing the arithmetic behind Romney’s tax plans and his track record of changing his opinion on social issues.
Moving into the issue of taxes, Ryan championed small and big business, pausing to assert, “Being successful in business — that’s a good thing,” a claim that sparked hoots and hollers from an otherwise tame crowd.
Ryan made sure to speak to his running mate’s merits. He ascribed to Romney four qualities “that make for a great leader when nations need one”: a moral compass, a bedrock of principles, a vision for the country and the leadership skills and experience to execute that vision. “Ladies and gentlemen, that is Mitt Romney,” he said.
Before closing, Ryan hearkened back to the words of Thomas Jefferson, stating that the fathers of our country, here in Virginia, had it right. “We’re not going to try to replace these founding principles,” he said. “That’s our commitment to you.”
After running through Romney’s proposed five-point plan as an example of how principles of liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by consent can be embraced through the Romney-Ryan ticket, Ryan thanked the crowd and jumped back into the campaign bus for another day on the trail with his wife and children.
When asked about the event, third-year College student Peter Finocchio said, “I think it shows what this election is all about. Virginia is excited about the Republican ticket.”
Virginia went blue last election. “I don’t think that is happening again,” Finocchio said.