COLUMBUS, Ohio – On the opening day of bow hunting season in Ohio, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan addressed a large group of sportsmen in the battleground state proclaiming he is a hunting and fishing enthusiast.
“Our opening day (in Wisconsin) was two weeks ago. I’ve got some stands out in the woods, but they’re not going to see me this year. And you know why? Because we are going to give this country a choice,” Ryan told the crowd, speaking at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s 16th Annual Save Our Heritage Banquet.
Later, he talked about taking his three children fishing.
“Teaching your kid how to take a night crawler and split it into about five pieces and put it on the hook ... make sure they don’t cut their hand when they push the gill down, take it off the hook. That’s a good life lesson. These are the things we teach our kids as hunting and fishing enthusiasts,” Ryan said about he and his wife, Janna.
The former chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus -- which Ryan described as the largest bipartisan caucus in Congress -- turned partisan midway through his speech expressing concern about another term for President Barack Obama.
“I shudder as a gun owner, seeing his [Obama’s] record when he was in the Illinois state Senate. What would he do if he never has to face the voters ever again? These are the kinds of questions we think about,” Ryan told the roughly 1,000-person crowd.
The attacks on the Obama-Biden ticket didn’t stop there as Ryan read word for word a response to Vice President Joe Biden’s comments Friday in Florida hitting the GOP ticket on Social Security and Medicare.
“Let me be very clear: There is only one person in this race threatening the health and retirement security programs of our seniors, and that is President Obama. There is only one person in this race insisting on raising taxes and that is President Obama,” the Wisconsin congressman said.
He went on to promise: “Mitt Romney and I will never waiver in our commitment to our seniors. Our plans actually save these programs, they make no changes for people in or near retirement, they strengthen Medicare and Social Security for a generation.”
Biden claimed in Boca Raton on Friday that a President Romney would not help the middle class.
“Well, if Governor Romney’s plan goes into effect, it could mean that everyone, everyone of you, would be paying more on taxes on your Social Security. The average senior would have to pay $460 a year more in taxes for their Social Security,” Biden said. “Ladies and gentlemen, that’s why these guys, while these guys are out there having hemorrhaging tax cuts for the super wealthy.”
The event Saturday evening marks Ryan’s 13th campaign appearance in the state since being chosen as Romney’s running mate. He was presented with a shotgun made in Ohio but because of congressional ethics rules asked to have the gift be made part of the event's silent auction.
Before heading to the annual banquet, Ryan stopped at a popular sports bar just a few hundred yards away from Ohio State University to watch the Buckeyes play the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing. He was joined by his wife plus his old college roommate from Miami University of Ohio, Tom Blackstone.
The surprise visit at The Varsity Club -- during which the VP nominee enjoyed a Miller Lite and shook hands with many patrons -- comes at a time when the Romney-Ryan ticket seems to be falling behind in the battleground state of Ohio.
According to a recent Washington Post poll of the state, Obama leads Romney there 52 percent to 41 percent.
Some have argued Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich has not helped the GOP ticket enough as he likes to boast the state’s success in creating jobs. Saturday night, speaking before Ryan at the sportsmen banquet, he again gave his state rave reviews.
“Folks as I walked around through the audience here, a lot of nice people saying, ‘You know, things are getting better.’ They are getting better. You know we are up 123,000 jobs in our state and that’s good news,” Kasich said. “I will say this to you: If at times I’ve got to take some heat, that’s OK because it is my job to build a stronger Ohio. Forget all the politics. Man to man, man to woman, this is all about making our state strong, and you know what, we’ve got what it takes.”
Ryan heads to Connecticut and New York for the next two days to raise money before heading to Iowa on a two-day bus tour of the Hawkeye State.