(ADEL, Iowa) — Paul Ryan gave a strong plea to voters in the small yet crucial battleground state of Iowa on Wednesday, tying his Wisconsin upbringing to their local roots.
Ryan has the right accent, family ties to the state, and the Romney campaign hopes he’ll add some Midwest relatability to a ticket whose headliner is a wealthy former East Coast governor.
He told the crowd of several hundred that he felt like he “just parachuted into my own home” mentioning his mother-in-law who came from Clinton, Iowa, as well as his grandfather who went to college in Dubuque.
“We are kindred spirits,” he told the audience. “I come from Southern Wisconsin, corn and soy bean country. I mean you drive five miles that way it looks like five miles from my house. We need to grow more food, make more things, sell them to other countries. That is how we make jobs. We need trade agreements that are fair, that hold people to account, but that help us make and grow things and sell them overseas. That is critical for jobs in Iowa, and critical for jobs in America.”
It’s a point that Romney aides believe will help their effort in this state that has only six electoral votes, but is on both campaign’s maps to victory and could make the difference in a tight race.
“The fact that he comes from Wisconsin, being in the bread basket, he knows how it helps the economy and feeds America and feeds the world. It’s a good way to connect with voters (in Iowa),” a Romney Iowa aide said. “It’s a cultural touchstone that I think helps us.”
“You have a unique responsibility and a special opportunity to get this country back on the right track,” the vice presidential candidate said, referring to Iowa’s unique status as the first state in the country to cast their ballots. Their caucuses are traditionally first and because of that distinction the state gets a lot of attention from both Republican and Democratic primary candidates.
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Dylan Byers, CNN
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN