WAUKESHA, Wis. - For Paul Ryan, it was an emotional homecoming.
With thousands cheering him during his first stop in his native Wisconsin as a vice presidential candidate, Ryan seemed to be choking back tears as he relayed his affection for his home state.
"I'm fifth generation from this state. My families came here back in the 1800s, made a go of it. It's where we've all raised our families ever since. This is such a phenomenal place to live, to work, to raise your family," Ryan said, choking up as he spoke to the crowd of approximately 10,000.
Just two days after Ryan set off on that clandestine trip from his home in Janesville, Wis., to Norfolk, Va., to join the Republican ticket, Mitt Romney shared the emotion he and his wife, Ann, felt as they were welcomed by the crowd in Ryan's home state.
"Ann leaned over to me as Paul was speaking, we were all moved by the way at the welcome you gave him. We were touched and tears filled my eyes, I looked at Ann, tears were in her eyes, and I know Paul, Janna [Ryan's wife] felt the same way. You guys are just amazing. I'm not sure about the kids but the rest of us felt pretty emotional," Romney said.
"I guess you think I made the right decision, the right choice," Romney said. "I know I did. People ask me why I chose Paul Ryan. The answer is I wanted someone who was a leader. Leadership comes from character. This is a man who has real character, who loves America, who has passion for America. Who understands what it takes to get America on the right track and this leader is going to help get America strong."
Joined by his wife, daughter and two sons, Ryan, a fifth generation Wisconsinite who grew up and lives in Janesville, some 50 miles south of Waukesha, spoke in almost a Wisconsin code as he shared his affinity for the signature items of the Badger State - from their sports teams to their beer.
"My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, and a little Spotted Cow and some Miller," Ryan said to cheers from the crowd. "I was raised on the Packers, Badgers, Bucks and Brewers. I like to hunt here, I like to fish here, to snowmobile here. I even think ice fishing is interesting. I'm a Wisconsinite through and through and I've just got to tell you how this means to be home."
With Ryan at his side, Romney relayed a forceful message to President Obama about the state of his campaign, telling the president to "take your campaign out of the gutter."
"There's no question but 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. We're not going to let that happen. This is going to be a campaign about ideas about 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, let's talk about the real issues that America faces," Romney said.
Since Ryan joined the ticket Saturday, Romney's events have burst with crowds numbering into the thousands, and the campaign shot a television ad at Sunday night's Waukesha event, which the staff estimated near 10,000 people. A few protesters were escorted out of the event by security after interrupting Romney as he spoke.
The Wisconsin event marked the end of Romney and Ryan's two-day post-announcement tour. Romney will head on to Florida Monday and Ohio Tuesday to round out his four-day bus tour. Ryan flies to Iowa for an event Monday at the same time that President Obama will be on a bus tour of his own in the Hawkeye State.