Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for Vice President, raked in a minimum of $250,000 during a quick fundraising stop in Minneapolis on Saturday night. It's difficult to say how much the Romney/Ryan ticket picked up from the Minneapolis event since donors were being asked to give between $1,000 and $25,000. Minnesota Republican Party Chair Pat Shortridge said the fundraiser was to fund the Romney/Ryan ticket.
Ryan arrived in Minnesota late in the afternoon before he went home to his home in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Ryan's plane, emblazoned with the campaign's "R" logo and "Believe in America" slogan, touched down at 4:45 p.m. in a light drizzle. Ryan's three children, who joined him and his wife on the trip, danced around the wet tarmac before the entire delegation bundled into the motorcade and headed up to Minneapolis.
The fundraiser at the Solera restaurant and event center drew 254 donors who paid $1,000 to eat tapas and hear the Republican vice presidential nominee's 11-minute speech. For $2,500, they got a photo with Ryan and for $25,000 you could join him at a private dinner.
With the checks safely in hand, Ryan was free to engage in a little Packers-on-Vikings smack talk.
"You know what this is?" he asked the crowd, holding up an empty right fist, knuckles-first. "That's a Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl ring." As the audience groaned, Ryan grinned. "You want me to leave right now, don't you?"
They didn't. Ryan gave a quick, upbeat speech that focused on his ties to Minnesota, and 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, and sluggish job growth numbers, 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."
Democrats were quick to point out Ryan's private fundraiser. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and DFL Party Chair held a news conference on Saturday to criticize what they call the Romney/Ryan budget.
On Friday, Rep. Betty McCollum held a conference call to welcome Ryan to the Twin Cities. McCollum, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee with Ryan, criticized the Republican plan that Romney and Ryan say would both cut taxes and reduce the deficit.
"When are they going to tell the American people what I believe is the truth about their plans to cut taxes for millionaires and trilionaires," McCollum said. "t's mathematically impossible to pay for all of the trillions in tax cuts that they want for the wealthiest without raising taxes on the middle class."
Democrats also announced on Saturday that Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, will campaign next week in Minneapolis and Duluth.
Material includes full pool report written by the reporter allowed to cover the Ryan event.
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