(Richmond, Va.) — Paul Ryan was supposed to be rallying in Virginia Friday with his running mate, but when Mitt Romney announced he was heading to Louisiana to visit parts of New Orleans hit hard by Hurricane Isaac, Ryan got a different wing man: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Ryan said Romney was in New Orleans “meeting with victims of the hurricane, bringing attention to those who are in Isaac’s path,” urging those standing on the scorching airline tarmac in Richmond to “send their prayers and their dollars” to charities that help the Hurricane victims.
Ryan and Cantor disembarked the candidate’s brand new campaign plane with the words “Believe in America” printed on the side and walked down a long runway with Ryan’s wife, Janna, his three children and his mother in tow as Neil Diamond’s “America” blasted from the speakers.
Cantor, who represents Virginia’s 7th congressional district (which includes part of Richmond), called Ryan not only a “colleague, but a very, very dear friend.”
“I have had the experience of knowing him when he works, and when he works, and when he works,” Cantor said. “Because I’ll tell you he can play a little but he’s a hard worker.”
Ryan returned the compliment, calling the Virginia congressman one of his “closest friends.”
The vice presidential candidate quickly moved to politics and said his ticket needs to do more than just say President Obama is “no good” while specifically pitching to the voters in this exceptionally important battleground state. Both the GOP ticket and the president have been campaigning on the ground and on the airwaves aggressively there.
“We are not just going to go to you and say, “Vote against the other guy because he’s no good,” Ryan said, in front of a crowd of more than 1,500. “You deserve more than that. The record’s no good, we’re offering solutions. We’re offering specific ideas. We’re saying, ‘Here’s how you take these principles that built America — liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination, government by consent of the governed.’ By the way, the government works for us, not the other way around. And of all people who should understand that, it’s Virginians. It’s Virginians that gave us this doctrine.”
Historically, Virginia voted Democratic until 1952, when the state turned Republican for presidential elections. In those 60 years, there have been just two exceptions: Lyndon Johnson’s landslide in 1964, and in 2008 Obama carried the state 53 percent to 46 percent over John McCain.
Ryan said a Romney-Ryan administration would “guarantee” the promises they make on the campaign trail, eliciting a huge cheer with his oft-repeated theme: “We have got to stop spending money we just don’t have.”
“The senate hasn’t passed a budget in three years,” Ryan said. “It’s a disgrace. It’s an abdication of responsibility. President Obama gave us four budgets with trillion-dollar deficits every year and no solution to make sure that we can guarantee Medicare. No solution that makes sure we guarantee these promises that were made to our seniors are kept. No solution to guarantee that our children inherit a debt-free nation. We will provide the leadership to guarantee that that happens.”
According to several Romney aides, when Ryan was originally selected as Romney’s running mate, the plan was to have the ticket campaign separately. But because of their ease with each other, the bigger crowds they pull in, and the energy they give to each other, they are often campaigning together. Saturday, they join back up again in Florida for a rally in Jacksonville.
At the end of Friday’s rally, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell hopped on the stage, seemingly surprising even Ryan himself. McDonnell landed at the end of the event, just in from Tampa.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tom LoBianco, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Eric Bradner, CNN
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN