Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan speaks at the Gradall… (Phil Long / Associated Press )
NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio – Kicking off a two-day, eight-stop bus tour through some of Ohio’s swingiest counties, Paul D. Ryan and his family toured a factory in this small town to call for stronger support of small business and to rally supporters just 10 days before the election.
“When you walk around a place like this, what you see is hard work. What you see is the ingenuity of the American worker,” Ryan said to the crowd of about 1,000 at Gradall Industries, a factory that makes excavating equipment. “What I see is a future, if we get the right polices in place.”
Gradall, which employs about 300, laid off 30 workers earlier this month, according to the New Philadelphia Times-Reporter. Company president Mike Haberman gave Ryan a tour of the factory, which featured machines welding in a bright blue light, but hardly a worker in sight.
“You guys know this, right? Not to look at it,” he said, as his son hugged Ryan and the welding equipment buzzed.
His wife and three children accompanied him on the tour as younger son Sam hammed it up for reporters, posing like a rock star, two fingers up, as his father walked behind him down the assembly line.
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For much of the campaign, Ryan has been used to shore up the Republican ticket’s working-class credentials, and this speech was no different. He spoke of his roots in Wisconsin, referred to Big 10 football, and used his home state to talk both about manufacturing and mining. A friend who worked at a closed GM plant now makes $9 an hour working as a cashier, he said, down from the $25 he had made.
“That’s the story of the American economy right now. That’s the story of 23 million people struggling. That’s the story that’s going to end on Nov. 6,” he said as the crowd cheered.
In recent speeches, including at a rally with Mitt Romney on Friday night in Canton, Ryan has been urging voters to think about how they’ll feel when they wake up Nov. 7 as a way to urge them to support Romney.
His speech was preceded by a short talk by Republican Josh Mandel, who is running against incumbent Sherrod Brown for an Ohio Senate seat. Polls have shown him down throughout the race.
New Philadelphia is the county seat of Tuscarawas County, which is one of the many counties in Ohio that has swung back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in recent years. In 2008, the county went for Barack Obama by a slim margin of 1,000 votes of the roughly 40,000 cast. In 2010, the county went for Republican John Kasich over Democrat Ted Strickland in the gubernatorial race, also by about 1,000 votes. The county has one of the lower unemployment rates in the state, at 5.9% in September, down from 8.8% in July 2011.
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