(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) – Only 11 days before Election Day, why is Paul Ryan visiting solidly red states like Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia?
It’s not for votes, but cash.
Despite Thursday’s announcement that the Romney campaign had $169 million cash on hand and there is limited air time left to buy in the battleground states, Ryan was fundraising Friday, making stops in Greenville, S.C., and Huntsville, Ala. This was the final money-hauling day on the GOP vice presidential nominee’s schedule, according to a Romney aide.
And haul they did, raising $1 million at an arena and concert hall Friday afternoon alone, according to Linda Maynor, a finance committee member.
Ryan also made a stop in Atlanta on Wednesday evening and was supposed to fundraise in Austin on Thursday, according to an invitation obtained by ABC News, but the campaign said Ryan would not be attending the event.
In Alabama, tickets ranged from $1,000 for the general reception, $5,000 for a photo with the House Budget Chairman, and a $25,000 donation or $50,000 raised for a ticket to the round table discussion with Ryan.
Ryan was joined by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and several members of the Alabama congressional delegation, and he noted the crowd “probably” doesn’t get to “see all the ads here, do you?”
“I’ve got to say, we’re in the home stretch here,” Ryan told the donors gathered at the Von Braun Center. “We are very clear, very close, and the contrast could not be sharper. And what I want to do right now is to thank you for your generosity…. What you’re doing is you are helping us execute a campaign where, in these critical battleground states, we are giving the country what it deserves, which is the people of this nation get the right to make the choice about what kind of country they want to have.”
He made similar comments Wednesday evening in Atlanta where, unlike the ads that are drowning the airwaves from Florida to Virginia, Ohio to Colorado, Georgians aren’t exposed to them. Ryan even joked when explaining what the last-minute cash pays for.
“You probably don’t see a lot of the ads do you?” Ryan laughed at the event at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.
“What your help here today does is, it helps us see this through, it helps us get through the closing moments because there is so much clutter out there,” Ryan told the 600 donors.
Ryan added that the donations they are bringing in at the Southern events is used to “run through the tape and see it through the end.”
In Alabama Friday, he explained the late money in the campaign’s coffers “help us with what we call the ground game: mobilizing voters to get them to the polls. Historically, Republicans have not been as good at that. We’re getting a lot better.”
Ryan explained that the successful recalls in his home state of Wisconsin have taught Republicans “if you have a good ground game, if you get the choice into the hands of the voter they’ll make the right decision.”
“I really believe the feel on the ground, it feels like our recalls,” Ryan explained. “People are excited. People know we can do better than this. People know we can get back on top.”
He noted that red state Alabama voters are “not in what we call one of these battleground states because you have proven, dedicated principled leadership that’s not in question or in doubt.”
The Wisconsin Congressman said he used to call the Obama campaign’s attacks “the spaghetti strategy, throw something against the wall to see what sticks. Now he’s practicing the kitchen sink strategy, throw everything but the kitchen sink at us to try and win by default.”
Ryan’s Atlanta fundraiser Wednesday cost donors $500 for the general reception, $10,000 for a photograph with the congressman, and $25,000 for the roundtable. The donation price tags may sound staggering, but it’s standard fare for both Romney and Ryan fundraisers, as well as the high dollar events President Obama has had throughout his campaign. It was quite a contrast, though, for Ryan who earlier the same day gave a speech on eliminating poverty and upward mobility in the critical state of Cleveland.
Of course it is not just Republicans raising massive amounts of money, Obama has spent more time fundraising than any other incumbent president.
This campaign is on pace to break the $2 billion mark with the president already hitting $1 billion and Romney close behind, with $954 million, according to disclosures filed by the campaigns Thursday. This is the most expensive campaign in history because traditionally, a candidate was given a fixed amount of money to run with from the national conventions through Election Day.
That all changed, though, four years ago when Barack Obama broke his pledge to accept federal funding in order to raise the money himself. This time around neither candidate is using the public financing system. That coupled with the rise of the super PACs have turned the race for the White House to a campaign where candidates split their time between campaigning in the battleground states and pumping donors for cash all over the country. The birth of the superPAC gives wealthy donors the ability to give unlimited amounts to both sides for the first time.
Friday’s event in Alabama was the last one on the schedule for Ryan. Romney’s final fundraiser he would attend took place on Oct. 20 in Palm Beach, Fla. while Obama’s was on Oct. 11 in Miami.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Debbie Bryce, Idaho State Journal