Paul Ryan holds final rally in MKE

Photo by Claire Nowak/ [email protected]

Photo by Claire Nowak/ [email protected]

Janesville native Paul Ryan returned to Wisconsin Monday night and gave a final speech before Election Day to a crowd of 2,500 supporters at the Sterling Aviation airplane hangar in Milwaukee.

After visiting four other states for rallies Monday, the vice presidential candidate sounded drained but relieved to finally be in his home state with his wife and three children, who have travelled with him for weeks.

“We were in Nevada, we were in Iowa, we were in Ohio, and we were in Colorado,” Ryan said.  “But it is really great to be back here in Packerland, God’s country.”

Ryan praised several Wisconsin leaders who spoke before his arrival, including Sen. Ron Johnson, State Sen. Alberta Darling, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish and Gov. Scott Walker, all of whom encouraged voters to repeat their successful efforts from the recall election just four months ago.  Ryan also thanked the lead singer of the country band “Alabama,” Randy Owen, for performing a 25-minute set before the speeches began.

With only hours left before polls opened, Ryan urged Wisconsinites to vote for “real reform for real change,” calling this election “a serious time.”  He told voters they didn’t have to settle for four more years of what he called the failed policies of President Obama, referencing the 23 million unemployed Americans, partisan politics and more than 50 percent of college students unable to find work after graduation.  He claimed that he and Romney would respect the country’s fundamental freedoms, specifically mentioning freedom of religion and free enterprise.

“We believe in the principles that founded this country,” Ryan said.  “The government works for the people, not the other way around.”

Bringing up Romney’s five-point plan, and joking that the crowd must have it memorized by now, Ryan said he and Romney are not afraid to tackle the tough issues by using North American energy resources, fixing problems in the country’s education system, and not “spending money we just don’t have.” He argued Romney has the leadership skills necessary to implement a vision that can get America back on track.

Pointing out a young girl sitting on her father’s shoulders in a sea of American flags and “Wisconsin Believes” signs, Ryan said the country needs to be fixed by an experienced leader with strong ideals so people of that girl’s generation could look to a brighter future.

“This country is far more than just Wisconsin,” Ryan said. “Wisconsin is an idea. America is an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea. … Our rights come from nature and God, not from government.”

Wisconsin has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, when Ronald Reagan won the state. However, Ryan said he is confident that his state’s “beautiful ten electoral votes” will help secure a victory for him and Romney come Tuesday night.

“They have always taken us for granted, Wisconsin. They thought it was easy. … We’re going to do this. One more day.”