ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Shushannah Walshe report:
Over the last few days Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has found his way into the living rooms of voters in Cincinnati, Lima and Dayton, Ohio as well as Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach, Florida.
He wasn’t actually sitting on those voters’ couches — although his campaign schedule has taken him to Virginia, Ohio and Florida in recent days — but rather appearing on their television screens.
In fact, since Mitt Romney tapped the Wisconsin congressman to be his running mate on August 11, Ryan has sat for more than 150 television, radio and newspaper interviews with the vast majority of those taking place at the local and regional level.
By the campaign’s count and an ABC News tally Ryan passed the 100 local interview mark last weekend, and so far, has chalked up something on the order of 108 since early August with more on the way.
A typical day for Ryan can include five or more interviews. Take last Saturday, for example. Ryan sat for interviews with the ABC and Fox affiliates in Miami, the NBC station in West Palm Beach and the CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in Orlando as well one central Florida cable channel. On Monday local stations in Dayton and Lima, Ohio as well as one in Fort Wayne, Indiana got time with the vice presidential hopeful. On Tuesday, Ryan taped interviews with three affiliates in Cincinnati. And on Wednesday, he will talk to a Denver radio program and television stations in Denver and Colorado Springs during his visit to Colorado.
Ryan has far outdistanced his Democratic counterpart, Vice President Joe Biden, at least on the local interview circuit.
To be sure, Biden has kept up a busy pace on the campaign trail, traveling to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa and New Hampshire in recent weeks. In just a few days, he heads to Florida, another crucial battleground state. And at almost every official campaign stop, the vice president manages to squeeze in some time talking to locals at unannounced visits to venues like restaurants and high school football fields.
“In more than 100 events this year, the Vice President has been campaigning in states across the country directly connecting with voters in their communities,” a Biden campaign official said.
The Romney-Ryan campaign’s local television strategy seems straightforward: It’s viewers in these key swing-state markets they need to reach heading into Election Day. The data-driven team in Boston can pinpoint the exact markets where they need to deploy Ryan and, for that matter, Romney and his wife, Ann, who also have busy local interview schedules. The subsequent coverage bolsters the paid advertising dollars they are pumping into those areas.
(Though the campaign frequently makes Ryan available for local broadcasters, the candidate has yet to hold a formal press conference with his traveling press corps. Although he has held informal question-and-answer sessions on his campaign plane and did so again while buying oranges in Florida last week.)
The goal of the local media approach is also to bring the Romney-Ryan ticket’s message directly to voters — preferably for the campaign — without straying too far off talking points. But many of the local interviewers have other ideas. Over the weekend, a reporter for the NBC News Miami affiliate, WPTV, asked Ryan whether “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” shouldn’t be reinstated.
“Now that it’s done, we should not reverse it,” Ryan said. “I think that would be a step in the wrong direction because people have already disclosed themselves.”
Ryan added: “I think this issue is past us. It’s done. And, I think we need to move on.”
Local affiliates also provided the venue for Ryan’s first response to his running mate’s hidden-camera comments about the “47 percent.”
“He said it was an inelegant way of describing the point we’re trying to make which is we need economic growth, job creation, we need upward mobility and the Obama economy is not producing that,” Ryan said to ABC News’ New Hampshire affiliate, WMUR, on Sept. 18.
And of course, it’s hard to forget Ryan’s unusual interview with Roanoke, Virginia CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV, when he played word association with a reporter and the world learned his food preferences.
“Having a piece of cake is just like having asparagus, as far as I’m concerned,” Ryan told reporter Orlando Salinas.
Romney-Ryan campaign aides say they plan to keep Ryan on a steady diet of local interviews heading into Nov. 6