(OAK CREEK, Wis.) — Paul Ryan returned home to his Wisconsin congressional district on Tuesday and visited first responders on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The GOP’s vice presidential nominee — and also still a candidate for reelection to Congress — visited the Oak Creek fire and rescue where he chatted with firefighters and addressed the group before joining them for lunch.
“I just wanted to come on the anniversary of 9/11 and say thank you to all of you who are first responders for what you do for us every day,” Ryan told them. “This is a day where we as Americans need to think and remember the people who lost their lives and be thankful for those of you who put your lives on the line for us every day. So we are here simply to bring notoriety and a gift of thanks for what you do for us on a daily basis.”
Ryan then said, “ Let’s dig in” before serving himself and others lasagna and salad for lunch.
Oak Creek is the same city where a mass shooting took place on Aug. 5 at a Sikh temple, killing six worshippers.
Earlier in Milwaukee, Ryan made a separate stop to visit with about 100 members of the 128th Air Refueling Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Many of the members have been constantly serving in the Middle East since Sept. 11, 2001.
Like he did with the first responders, Ryan thanked them, this time as a neighbor.
“I live down the street in Janesville,” Ryan said. “I know a lot of you live in the area. A number of us have met over the years. I have been flying into this airport for a long time back and forth from Washington to see my family. But when we hit the ground today flying home, this day meant a bit more because this is the anniversary of 9/11.”
Ryan continued to thank the group, “For what you do to make us safe. For what you do to make us proud. For what you do to remember what it all counts.”
The Wisconsin congressman is fresh off a west coast fundraising swing after stops in California, Portland, Ore., and Seattle. On Wednesday, his congressional campaign launches ads in Wisconsin backing his House race, a day before the Romney campaign also goes up in the air in the Badger state.
Ryan’s selection has put this state that was decidedly Democratic in play. Wisconsin hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan took the state in 1984.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Daniella Diaz, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN