Paul Ryan Urges Early Voting in Ohio

Keith Srakocic/AP Photo

BELMONT, Ohio-Paul Ryan rallied a soggy, but hardy crowd at a campground here after a heavy downpour, twice urging those gathered to vote early.

"One thing Belmont County can do: if you head to early voting at your Belmont Board of Elections the one thing you can do is elect a man named Mitt Romney who will end this war on coal and allow us to keep these good paying jobs," Ryan said, standing in front of a barn at the Valley View campgrounds with the words "Victory in Ohio" on a banner hanging behind him.

He had the same message at the end of his brief remarks, thanking the enthusiastic group-many dressed in ponchos and hunting gear-for "listening and enduring the rain," adding not to "forget early voting."

There's a reason for all the urging: no Republican has gotten to the White House without taking Ohio and in 2008 Barack Obama beat John McCain here in Belmont County by a mere 880 votes. In 2004, John Kerry beat George W. Bush in Belmont County by 1,987 votes, but ended up losing the state and the election.

Polls in the state still show the president ahead, but also show a tightening between the two candidates. A Fox News poll released Friday had Obama with 46 percent to Romney's 43 percent.

The GOP vice presidential nominee didn't hesitate to try to connect with the audience of several hundred, reminding them he spent "four great formative years" at Miami University of Ohio and managing to fit in three hunting references in his 15 minute speech.

"I've chased your deer around this state as well, it's a lot like where I come from Wisconsin," Ryan, an avid bow hunter, said. "I've got to think of some deer I reckon right through that draw right there in those woods. I haven't been able to bow hunt this year yet…I have my phone is camouflage and blaze orange, it reminds me that I get to take my daughter for her first gun hunt for deer this year after we have elected Mitt Romney the next president of the United States."

Earlier Saturday, Ryan campaigned in Pennsylvania hitting the president on his energy policy. Later this afternoon, Ryan travels to a fundraiser in Northern New Jersey before two events in Iowa and one in Colorado Sunday.