WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Don Hilbig was sitting on a hay bale not far from the stage in this grassy Milwaukee suburb where, on Sunday evening, Wisconsin congressman Paul D. Ryan was to return as Mitt Romney’s newly-minted Republican running mate. Hilbig wore a Green Bay Packers baseball cap and a green "Paul Ryan for Congress" T-shirt.
The faded shirt was more than a decade old. Hilbig, a retired psychotherapist from Beloit, said he got it while working on Ryan's first congressional campaign.
"He's my guy," Hilbig said. "He's an all-American young man. He's an Eagle Scout."
"Let's be honest," his friend Russell Rucker added. "I'm in love with Ryan."
The pair said they were thrilled when Romney announced Ryan as his running mate, because aspects of the former Massachusetts governor's record had given them pause. "We'd just like him to be a tad more conservative," Hilbig said.
But they said Romney's pick of Ryan assuaged those concerns. Together, Hilbig said, the two were a perfect ticket.
"They're an incredible duo," he said.
Chris Sekula, 39, called Romney and Ryan "the team to change America."
"They're going to undo everything that Obama knotted," he said.
Like a lot of people at the Waukesha rally, Sekula, an auto painter, said the recent battle between public employee unions and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had divided the state along sharp ideological lines. On the road outside the rally, where the line to get in was backed up for more than a mile, many cars sported bumper stickers that said: "I support Scott Walker."