GREEN BAY, Wisconsin — Paul Ryan may be on his final sprint to Election Day, but he briefly stopped to campaign in his home state. He visited a temple of sorts for Wisconsinites: Lambeau Field.
The Green Bay Packers take on their NFC rivals, the Arizona Cardinals, today, and Ryan and his family were joined by Romney sons Josh and Matt as well as four Romney grandchildren to greet Packer fans, who are also voters in this now-crucial battleground state.
Two days from Election Day, Ryan, wearing a Green Bay Packers jacket and tie, and the kids, dressed in cheese heads, played a game of corn hole and greeted fans in a sea of green and gold. They were also joined by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ron Johnson, who joined in on the game.
The Romney campaign is making a serious push for this state. As Ohio looks less likely for the GOP ticket, Ryan’s home state, which he put in play with his selection, is becoming more critical. Polls still show President Obama ahead here with a three to eight point advantage, but Republicans say they have an effective ground game.
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The mood was light as Ryan made his way through a crush of Packers fans, in Green Bay jackets, hats and some face paint. One man congratulated Ryan “in advance,” while a young woman, clearly thrilled at being close to the Wisconsin congressman, shouted over and over, “Oh my God! I just want to take a photo!”
Ryan seemed surprised at the crush of Packers fans who came to greet him, exclaiming, “Holy cow!” This is the fourth time he’s campaigned with tailgaters this fall, the first time outside Ohio.
As he made his way through the crowd shaking hands and signing cheese heads he lamented that he didn’t have tickets to the game, but joked to fans that he owns part of the team.
“We’re shareholders too. It’s nice to see my fellow owners,” Ryan said with a huge smile on his face.
Green Bay Packer fans can buy shares of the team — it’s the only non-profit community-owned professional sports franchise in the country — and Ryan and his wife each own a share. Although Ryan loves to joke about it, it’s eerily reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s awkward comment in March, when he said some NFL owners are “friends of mine.”
After greeting fans, Ryan then played corn hole with his kids, the Romney sons, as well as the Romney grandkids. Matt Romney’s daughter Chloe and Ryan’s 10 year old daughter Liza have become fast friends during the campaign.
Ryan instructed the children on the importance of wearing the state hat, visible at Ryan rallies all over the country:
“You have to have your cheese on your head, that’s the rule, the cheese has to stay on the head!” Ryan joked with the kids.
The crowd formed a circle around the group and began chanting the final deadline to voting: “Two more days! Two more days!”
The trip ended quickly and he sped off to a whirlwind day that includes stops in other critical states including Ohio, Minnesota, and Colorado, before he wraps up the day in Nevada. Many of the events leading up to Tuesday will be in airplane hangars so the busy candidate can drop in for a rally and quickly fly out.
This isn’t Ryan’s last campaign stop in his home state, he will hold his final rally in Milwaukee ahead of voting in his home town of Janesville Tuesday. The president will also campaign in the hotly contested state Monday.
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