BRISTOL, Va.- Campaigning in this crucial battleground state today, Paul Ryan called the Obama campaign's glossy magazine-style document a "slick new brochure." And when a supporter in the crowd called it a "comic book," Ryan was only too happy to repeat the description.
The rally was on a hill outside a fibers factory, and the crowd was pumped up and reliably Republican. So even when a plane from the liberal group Moveon.org flew overhead dragging a message "Romney's GOP: Wrong on Rape and Women," the crowd barely took notice. It was a clear reference to the comments Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock made Tuesday night when he said a woman impregnated during rape was "God's plan."
And Ryan's reference was to the Obama campaign's 20 page document, released Tuesday, which outlines broad strokes of the president's plans on manufacturing, energy, education, taxes and entitlements but does not detail new policy or proposals.
"President Obama really hasn't given us a vision for a second term agenda," Ryan said. "Just a couple of days ago he came up with a slick new brochure, with less than two weeks left to say, 'Oh, I do actually have an agenda.' "
Polls are deadlocked in this battleground state with both candidates within the margin of error. The state has been reliably red until Obama won it in 2008, the first Democrat to do so in a presidential race since 1964, and the Romney campaign is aggressively trying to flip it back.
Ryan, dressed in a blue shirt and red striped tie, urged the crowd to vote early and urged supporters to talk to friends "who thought the hope and change sounded good in 2008, but know it isn't true now."
"Virginia, we need your help," Ryan told the crowd of about 1,500. "Don't forget, early voting has already started. If you haven't voted absentee, you can still do it … go find those friends, those family members, those neighbors. We can do this together."
The GOP vice presidential nominee also took a page from the Romney playbook, calling their opponent's effort "the incredibly shrinking Obama campaign," something Mitt Romney first said on Friday night in Daytona Beach alongside Ryan.
"The president's policies have failed," Ryan said today. "He cannot run on his record and that is why he has reduced his campaign, the incredibly shrinking Obama campaign to all these distortions, divisions, name calling and word gaming."
Ryan continued, "That is not aspiration, that is not hope, that is not change, that is blame, that is division, that is distortion. He is hoping he can get away with it so he can win by default."
And for the other side's part, D emocrats have been trying to align Romney and Mourdock, who defeated longtime incumbent Richard Lugar in the Republican primary in May. Through a spokesperson, Romney said he disagreed with Mourdock but still supports him. The campaign is not asking Mourdock to pull an ad featuring the GOP presidential nominee. The Ryan campaign deferred to the top of ticket regarding Mourdock's comments.
Ryan has another stop in the state today, campaigning in Charlottesville before traveling to South Carolina. This week he is heading into red state territory, not for votes but for money, holding a fundraiser in Atlanta on Wednesday and more in South Carolina and Alabama on Friday. Invitations were sent out for a fundraiser Thursday in Austin, Texas, as well, but the campaign said Ryan would not be attending.