EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. - Paul Ryan is calling his home state of Wisconsin the "epicenter of this decision," and the entire campaign seems to agree.
Four years ago Barack Obama won this state by 14 points, but now Wisconsin is in contention largely because of Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate. On Wednesday, Ryan called it one of a "handful of states that will determine the outcome of this election."
Wisconsin, with its 10 electoral votes, might be Ryan's home state, but he's far from the only candidate or surrogate stumping here. Instead it seems as if the two campaigns are chasing each other around the Badger State. President Bill Clinton will be in Eau Claire on Wednesday. Vice President Joe Biden will be in Superior and Beloit on Friday. (Beloit is the neighboring town to Ryan's hometown of Janesville.) Mitt Romney will be here Friday in West Allis.
If that's not enough, President Obama will get back on the campaign trail Thursday after being down for several days due to superstorm Sandy. One of his first stops? Green Bay ( Ryan will be there later today).
Polls are tight here with the president having a slight of edge of about two points in most polling. It's why Wisconsinites are getting so many big-name visitors, but there is also a massive amount of ad spending from both candidates, as well as superPACs. According to the National Journal, the Romney campaign has spent over $6 million on the air here, while the Obama campaign has spent over $7 million, with the superPACs spending millions more. The pro-Romney superPAC "Restore Our Future" has spent over $8 million alone.
Today, wearing a festive orange tie (he's taking his kids trick-or-treating this evening), the GOP vice presidential contender told 1,000 enthusiastic supporters shouting "Yes!" throughout his speech at a banquet hall called Florian Gardens, to "spend the weekend talking to friends, talking to relatives, talking to neighbors, making sure people go to the polls." If they do, he added, they will "wake up next Wednesday morning and know that we have elected a leader to put our country back on the right track."
Ryan's congressional campaign released its ninth and final ad on Wednesday, "The Idea of America," which will only run in his district. On the stump, Ryan consistently talks about the "American idea" and American exceptionalism, as well as the belief that if you work hard in this country you can achieve success - hardly an idea the other side disagrees with.
His congressional campaign has spent about $2 million on television ads that say "Ryan for Congress" at the end of the commercial, but can also only help the GOP ticket here.
Ryan spent yesterday in Wisconsin, but traded overtly political rallies for two photo ops at campaign offices in La Crosse and Hudson thanking volunteers who were gathering canned goods and other non-perishable items to be transported to storm victims in New Jersey. At the beginning of his event here he asked everyone to "keep the people of the Northeast in our prayers today," as well as urging people to donate to the Red Cross.
He will make two more stops today, in Green Bay and Racine, before ending the day in Janesville.