Paul Ryan at Lunken Airport – Ohio is “The Battleground of Battlegrounds” (Pictures)

“O-H”… was Paul Ryan’s kick off, with the crowd finishing, “I-O.”  His evenhanded follow-up, “even Miami University grads like to say that once in a while.”  With just three weeks left before the November election, the Republican vice-presidential nominee briefly touched down at Lunken Airport Monday for a rally.  He urged supporters to vote early – so they can help get out the vote on election day.   He asked voters to talk to friends and relatives, “You have it within your control and ability to find those people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008”.

“You know you’re the battleground state of battleground states….You understand your opportunity, right?”

Political rallies make great theater – and fun.  And this was no exception.  A glorious fall day at Lunken Airport was the ideal setting for Paul Ryan’s most recent visit to Cincinnati.  Beautiful fall color dotted the surrounding hillsides.  A breezy day with clouds and temps in the 50’s – until just before noon, when the clouds parted and the sun came out, right on cue as if made to order for starting time.

Ryan’s airplane, emblazoned with “Believe in America”, landed at Lunken Field just before 1 pm, pulling up on the tarmac just behind the podium.  He spoke for approximately fifteen minutes before serving Montgomery Inn barbecue and talking with the crowd in line for nearly half an hour.

Ryan’s message – jobs and the economy, Romney’s five point plan, and President Obama’s empty promises and failed record. He described the president as “a man who cannot run on his record and so has resorted to a campaign not of hope and change, but attack and blame”.  “These debates are giving us the ability to cut through the clutter and give people a very clear choice.  That’s what we’re offering.” And, a contrast of “opportunity and upward mobility versus dependency”.  On the debt crisis Ryan urged, “Go home and turn on the TV and look at Europe.”

He also criticized the Obama administration for lack of transparency during negotiations and passage of Obamacare, rather than airing it on C-SPAN as promised.   Ryan pointed out that there are twelve taxes on the middle class in Obamacare.

In the final stretch of the campaign, crowds are growing at Romney-Ryan campaign stops.   Supporters are ebullient, excited, and motivated.   Although scheduled for midday on a Monday, the rally was well-attended; however no crowd numbers or estimates were given.   Mitt Romney reportedly drew a crowd of over 10,000 in Lebanon, Ohio on Saturday. (Source: Byron York)

Post-debate, Ohio is on a roll and building momentum. (Story)   The excitement was palpable and the mood upbeat.   Ohio Auditor and emcee Dave Yost led the crowd in a cheer of “three – more – weeks”, a takeoff of Obama’s “four more years”.

Yost introduced an “American success story”, local small business owner Tillie Hidalgo Lima.  Her story is inspiring and uniquely American.   President and CEO of Best Upon Request, Inc., Lima, a self-described Cuban refugee and Hispanic small business owner escaped Communist Cuba with her parents during the Bay of Pigs when she was ten-months old.

Now a U.S. citizen, Lima said, “We were duped in Cuba by Castro. We cannot let it happen again.”  And of President Obama, “Past indicators are predictors or future performance”   Lima says during the last four years, each citizen’s share of the national debt has risen from $35,000 to $51,000 per person.  “Mitt and Paul understand we did build our businesses.”  “This year my company became debt free – I’m very proud of that.”  Lima believes Romney and Ryan “will restore our American values and the American dream.”

The ongoing theme of the day – vote early and talk to other voters.  Nearly every person in possession of the microphone reinforced the message.   Dave Yost said we’ve been taught we can’t talk about politics, but says he’d like to “give us a hall pass to talk about politics.”  He urged voters to “talk with someone you would never talk to about this.”

Wayne Lippert, candidate for Hamilton County Recorder, and Mike Wilson, candidate for Ohio-28, used similar messaging.  They stressed the importance of phone calls, door to door, and voting early.  Wilson, who was behind by 5 votes out of 43,000 in his 2010 race said you need to knock on doors to win.  “We don’t know what is enough.”   Wayne Lippert asked the crowd to contact victory centers and devote time every week “to save our country”.

Brad Wenstrup, Republican candidate for Ohio’s 2nd congressional district said Obamacare must be repealed and replaced, saying it will “deny payment not care.”  He described leaders, saying “They don’t run from problems they run after them.”

Every detail of a campaign event is scripted and planned, with nothing left to chance.  And fascinating to watch unfold.  Event location, candidate backdrops, media location, American flag size and placement, campaign signs, banners, music, even audience members in the background are carefully chosen. Romney-Ryan campaign signs are passed out.  The crowd gets rehearsal and instructions – from campaign staff, security, and even the Secret Service.

It’s interesting to note that every Romney-Ryan rally for the last two months has featured country music – both live and recorded. Today, Motown made a comeback…“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”… (Editorial opinion, it was welcome and refreshing –this change is good.)

It’s astonishing the lengths supporters will go through to attend – a drive from Louisville, parking confusion, trekking from distant parking lots, waiting in line, security clearance, and standing for hours in the elements.  A woman from Delhi arrived as early as 8:00 am for a door opening at 10:00, and rally at noon.

(Note to self:  “‘Doors open at 10:00” does not necessarily mean you will be indoors.  Check the weather and dress appropriately, including socks if needed.  Stylish shoes not a good idea.)

Paul Ryan was dressed for the elements, sporting a red North Face jacket – possibly chosen for Miami U’s school colors (equal time for Ohio State’s scarlet and gray), patriotic symbolism, or to make him more visible.

Two local Cincinnati favorites – Skyline Chili and Montgomery Inn, got another mention from the veep candidate.  Paul Ryan still likes Skyline Chili 5-ways.

Ryan made more connections with locals, mentioning his lucky buckeye from Sen. Rob Portman, his alma-mater, Miami University, and referencing Ohio State with his opening cheer.  He praised Ohio’s leadership and economic turnaround.

It doesn’t escape notice that presidential campaigns inspire the entrepreneurial spirit – it’s alive and well at GOP rallies, spawning numerous retailers.  Vendors were hawking their wares – setting up shop, working the line and selling everything Romney.  Perhaps this is the beginning of the much-needed economic recovery and job growth.

Double click on any image below to enlarge:

Paul Ryan’s stand-in for sound, microphone, and camera check.

George Brunemann, President of Cincinnati Tea Party, and K. Carl Smith, Frederick Douglass Republicans.

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