Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan swung through Minneapolis Saturday night to raise some money and talk some smack about the Minnesota Vikings.
“You know what this is?” he asked a crowd of 254 supporters at the Solera restaurant and event center, holding up a bare-knuckled fist. "That's a Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl ring." As the crowd groaned, Ryan grinned. "You want me to leave right now, don't you?"
They didn't. Supporters paid $1,000 a head to eat tapas and hear the candidate's 11-minute speech. For $2,500 they could get a picture with Ryan, and $25,000 bought a seat with him at a private dinner.
Ryan's quick, upbeat speech focused on his ties to Minnesota, including his shared experience as a fellow resident of flyover country.
“When you talk to somebody from the east coast or the west coast, which I do all the time, they say ’Oh yeah, you’re that guy from Minnesota, aren’t you?’” Ryan said. “I say, ‘No, I’m from Wisconsin.’ They say, ‘Oh yeah. Same thing.”
Not so, Ryan said: “They’re the Lutheran deer hunters, we’re the Catholic deer hunters.”
“I enjoy this state so much. Our states are so similar,” said Ryan, who was joined at the event by his brother Stan, a Minnesota resident.
Ryan waxed nostalgic about a youthful summer job he spent with Stan, selling Oscar Mayer meats to northern Minnesota grocery stores. There, he said, all the grocery store butchers “would kick off at about 3 to go fishing, so I figured, well, I might as well do the same thing too. I fished a lot of your wonderful lakes here.”
Ryan also worked in a few jabs at President Barack Obama, particularly on sluggish job growth, which he said is a sign that the country is “heading in the wrong direction.”
“We’ve got to get this economy growing. We’ve got to get jobs back on track,” he said. “We can have growth, but that means you need pro-growth solutions, get them in place to turn this thing around.”
And in conclusion, Ryan said, “Go Packers!”
This was Ryan’s first campaign stop in in Minnesota. And like the campaign’s last swing through the state – Mitt Romney’s August fundraisers in Minnetonka Beach and Shoreview -- this was strictly a cash withdrawal. No public events, not even many protesters on a damp evening with a Zombie Pub Crawl competing for the public’s attention – although the advance team reported a few spirited boos from the gay bar across the street.
Ryan was introduced by three members of Minnesota’s Republican congressional delegation: U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen. Bachmann spoke before the press pool was brought into the room.
Kline introduced Ryan to the crowd by noting that campaign season was cutting into Ryan’s other favorite season.
“He’s my hunting partner. I know that he’s chafing a little bit because it’s deer season,” Kline said. “He would far rather be in a tree stand than debating Joe Biden.”