By Craig Robinson
Paul Ryan’s latest swing through the state of Iowa has begun in two communities where the Republican nominee for Vice President has family ties. On Monday, Ryan rallied Republicans at his grandfather’s alma mater, Loras College, in Dubuque. On Tuesday, Ryan begins his day in Clinton, where his mother-in-law was born. The bus tour of Mississippi River towns continues through Muscatine before it concludes in Burlington Tuesday evening.
Republicans packed the Loras College field house on Monday evening to see Ryan, and even more stood outside because the building was over capacity. Ryan was greeted with thunderous applause and cheers when introduced by 1st District Republican Congressional candidate Ben Lange.
As expected, Ryan’s comments focused the Obama administration, but he admitted that President Obama inherited a mess when he was elected in 2008. The one caveat, however, was that the President has done nothing to fix things despite his party having total control of government for the first two years in office. Ryan then suggested that the accomplishments of President Obama’s first term actually made things worse.
Ryan also said that the President doesn’t have any idea in how to get the economy moving. Ryan noted that for everyone who found a job last month, four others stopped look for work. He also chided the president for his recent remark that the only way to change Washington is to change it from the outside. Ryan told the crowd, “If President Obama can’t change Washington, I suggest we change presidents.” The crowd inside the field house went nuts.
With the debates starting this week, Ryan said that we are entering the choice phase of the campaign. He said there are real differences between the President and Mitt Romney. While President Obama has exploded our national debt, a Romney-Ryan administration will work to give our children a debt-free nation. Ryan warned, “We are living in untruth. We cannot continue to kick the can down the road.”
Ryan insinuated that Americans are beginning to wake up to the nation’s debt crisis. He quoted Winston Churchill who once said; “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Ryan ended his speech saying a Romney-Ryan administration will tackle the problems that face the nation by leading and taking responsibility, not placing blame or ignoring difficult issues.
Ryan’s “Real Recovery” bus tour of eastern Iowa is visiting communities that are not necessarily Republican bastions, but are instead swing counties. In 2010, Governor Terry Branstad won in Clinton and Muscatine counties, but fell just short in Dubuque and Des Moines County. In 2008, McCain lost the four counties by a 23,386 margin. George W. Bush also lost all four counties in 2004, but only lost the four counties by a 14,364 margin. Bush carried the state that year.
The Romney-Ryan ticket doesn’t necessarily need to win in the four counties he is visiting, but it’s imperative that they are competitive there if they want to have any shot at winning state-wide and securing Iowa’s six electoral votes. Branstad’s ability to build a 750-vote margin out of those four counties also shows that Republicans can be more than completive in the area. The Romney-Ryan ticket is advancing a message similar to Branstad’s, whose 2010 campaign focused on competency and fiscal responsibility.
How well Romney runs in eastern Iowa could also have an impact on the two congressional challenger races in the eastern part of the state. With one stop in Iowa’s First Congressional District, and three stops in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District Ben Lange and John Archer also benefit from Ryan’s current bus tour.
The latest TIR-Voter/Consumer Research poll asked Iowans if they planned to vote for the Republican congressional candidate or the Democrat congressional candidate. Forty-four percent of respondents said that they planned on voting for the Republican candidate, while 42 percent said they would vote for the Democrat candidate. Republicans only have a narrow lead over the Democrats, but it’s a lead nonetheless. Those numbers show that the down ballot congressional races are very competitive.
Lange said Ryan’s visit to Dubuque was of critical importance to his campaign. “It is incredibly important to have Paul Ryan visiting the district, particularly Dubuque, which is less than 100 miles from his hometown of Janesville. Not only is it important for him to speak directly to Iowans outside the media filter, his visits having an incredibly positive impact on grassroots operations. His visits inspire and energize activists, persuade undecideds, and help our early voting efforts,” Lange told TheIowaRepublican.com.
Lange made good use of the captive audience waiting to see Paul Ryan. Lange thoroughly canvassed the venue shaking hands, taking pictures with supporters, and making new connections. He used the opportunity to highlight the similarities between himself and the Vice President nominee.
With three stops in the 2nd Congressional District on Tuesday, John Archer is getting a major boost from the Ryan bus tour. Archer is facing Democrat Congressman Dave Loebsack, who recently attacked John Deere in a campaign ad. Deere & Company is the largest employer in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. Archer will likely use the stage time to draw attention to Loebsack’s recent campaign ad.
Archer told TheIowaRepublican.com on Monday, “I am pleased the Romney/Ryan campaign chose to come to Eastern Iowa. Voters in the Second District want leadership. They want to see an environment that will put people back to work. Iowa’s Second District has not seen that leadership with Congressman Loebsack or President Obama.”
TheIowaRepublican.com will have coverage of Ryan’s visit to Muscatine on Wednesday.
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