Ryan focuses on defense, autos during Mansfield visit

Candidate spends 2nd straight day in Ohio


MANSFIELD, Ohio — Rep. Paul Ryan, the Re­pub­li­can vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, cam­paigned for the sec­ond straight day in Ohio on Sun­day.

Rally-go­ers gath­ered in a pri­vate Mans­field air­port han­gar that cre­ated a blank can­vas for mas­sive Rom­ney/Ryan ban­ners and am­pli­fied their cheers amid Mr. Ryan’s rock­ing mu­si­cal se­lec­tions.

The air­base where the han­gar is sit­u­ated is also home to Mans­field Lahm Air Na­tional Guard Base, home to the 179th Air­lift Wing.

Warm-up speak­ers were quick to point out that be­fore Pres­i­dent Obama landed at the base in Au­gust en route to a cam­paign stop, his de­fense bud­get called for shut­ter­ing the in­stal­la­tion.

But for Con­gress in­ter­ven­ing, “these planes would al­ready be moth­balled and the 179th would not have a mis­sion,” Sen. Rob Port­man of Ohio told the crowd.

A White House spokes­man later said the Pres­i­dent was “com­mit­ted to work­ing” with the De­fense Depart­ment to pre­vent the clo­sure. It was a prom­ise that didn’t ring true with Sun­day’s crowd. Many sup­port the lo­cal Guards­men, who flew mis­sions in Af­ghan­istan and are cur­rently sup­port­ing the cleanup ef­forts in the af­ter­math of su­per­storm Sandy in the North­east.

Ohio Sen. Larry Ob­hof (R., Medina) said that Mr. Obama’s auto bail­out did not help Mans­field be­cause the Gen­eral Mo­tors Co. stamp­ing plant in a neigh­bor­ing town closed, tak­ing with it hun­dreds of jobs.

Mr. Ryan started by greet­ing old friends he said he’d made in his years at Miami Univer­sity, where he got his eco­nom­ics de­gree. He pointed out sev­eral in the au­di­ence. “So I've been hear­ing about Mans­field, Ohio, since I was 18 years old,” he said. “So nice to meet you all.”

The Re­pub­li­can vice-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date also jumped on Mr. Obama’s “reck­less” de­fense spend­ing cuts, the ones that put the air­base in dan­ger of clos­ing.

De­fense spend­ing seems to be “the only place he is ac­tu­ally will­ing to cut,” Mr. Ryan said.

He said the Pres­i­dent is do­ing ex­actly what he com­plained about his op­po­nents do­ing last elec­tion — run­ning away from his record, not on it. “We can­not af­ford four more years, we can only af­ford two more days,” Mr. Ryan said.

As the event cleared out, Mr. Port­man said that small-town mar­kets are im­por­tant for the cam­paign. Re­cent polls have shown how much “swing” pos­si­bil­ity there is.

Rich­land County, which sup­ported John McCain with 55.7 per­cent of its votes in 2008, ate up Mr. Ryan’s speech.

“I think this mo­ti­vates them to do more,” Mr. Port­man said.

Though there may not seem to be many un­de­cided vot­ers, Mr. Port­man said he thought there were some, mill­ing around at the back of the crowd. Those are the peo­ple he tries to talk to.

And those are the folks he thinks Mr. Ryan can still reach, with the par­al­lels he makes with the peo­ple of his home­town of Janes­ville, Wis. — which also has suf­fered eco­nom­i­cally — and them.

“I think peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate that,” Mr. Port­man said. “This town could use a shot in the arm.”