By Kevin Begos
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of about 500 people at a hanger near the Pittsburgh Airport on Saturday, saying the country couldn’t afford “four more years” of the Obama administration’s energy policies and repeatedly mentioning the importance of coal mining, historically a major industry in the region.
“Pennsylvania is going to send Mitt Romney to the White House, isn’t it?” Ryan said, referring to his running mate as he launched into a stump speech that focused on criticizing President Barack Obama’s energy and tax policies.
But Ryan also made questionable claims about energy trends. For example, he said that Obama administration policies are “making us buy more oil from the Middle East.” But U.S. oil production has risen by almost 20 percent since Obama took office, and total oil imports have declined by about the same amount. Natural gas production has increased, too, especially in Pennsylvania.
Ryan made some comments that seemed designed to appeal to western Pennsylvania sensibilities.
“After this election, my daughter’s 10 years old. She gets to shoot her first deer this year,” Ryan said, to applause from the crowd.
One thing that seemed clear at the event was that Romney has won over the Republican base.
“Romney wasn’t my first choice, but I’m really happy with him now, the more I’ve gotten to know him,” said Georgia Kruhm, of nearby Oakdale, who was excited to be at the event. Other people at the event expressed similar thoughts.
Local Democrats questioned the seriousness of Ryan’s visit.
“We have Paul Ryan doing a kind of fly-by today,” said Alleghany County executive Rich Fitzgerald, who made a brief appearance near the Ryan event. Ohio is only about 20 miles away from the Pittsburgh airport.
“For six years, Mitt Romney ran as a severe conservative” but now positions himself as a moderate, Fitzgerald said, adding that Obama administration support for the auto industry “saved a lot of jobs” in western Pennsylvania.
Romney trailed Obama by just 4 percentage points among likely Pennsylvania voters in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted Oct. 12-14. The same pollster showed Obama with a 12-point lead in late September.
But there have been no signs of a new Romney advertising push in Pennsylvania, and the Romney campaign didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether its candidates plan to make more visits to Pennsylvania, or plan to run ads here.
Obama administration spokesman Matt Mittenthal said he didn’t know of any plans for Obama or Vice President Joe Biden to visit Pennsylvania during the last two weeks of the campaign.
But Ryan’s appearance was likely about more than just the presidential race.
Pittsburgh is a strategically important area for the Republican Party. The city’s media market reaches eastern Ohio, a primary battleground state, and heavily populated southwestern Pennsylvania is an area of growing strength for Republicans. Republicans hope to sway the area’s conservative Reagan Democrats, who are turning away from Obama but have not fully embraced Romney.
In addition, a heavily contested race for U.S. House is being waged there by Republican lawyer Keith Rothfus and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Critz.
Ryan visited Pennsylvania once before as the vice-presidential candidate, on Aug. 21.
Obama hasn’t campaigned in Pennsylvania since June, and Biden, like Romney, last campaigned in the state in September.
By Kevin Begos
Prize claim cost man $1,829
WINFIELD — Western Union is doing what it can to educate people about the risks in wiring money. An entire section on its website (www.westernunion.com) is devoted to providing information that might reduce the risk of people falling victim to fraud schemes.
Reel good time enjoyed by 200 young anglers
TREVORTON — It only took about three minutes for J.C. Wallish to reel in his first fish at the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association’s annual Youth Trout Derby on Saturday.
Elytte Barbour's 'bad trip' put him on the road to prison, friend says
SUNBURY — A former roommate of slaying suspect Elytte Barbour drove 450 miles from North Carolina to spend 45 minutes in the Northumberland County Prison with his best friend last week, and was not surprised when he heard Barbour say: “I am afraid to spend the rest of my life in jail.”
60 dogs battle for biscuits at annual bone hunt
It was a scene similar to ones playing out all over the nation this weekend: nervous parents holding baskets and bags, watching their little ones search for goodies in the grass.
Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law
PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.
Danville parents hope strike ends quickly
DANVILLE ““ First-grader Madison Wild was sad she missed school Thursday.
Schools ask state to waive 180-day rule
Three area school districts have asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to add up their hours instead of their days in order to reach the required amount of instruction time in the school year.
Former Bucknell star in NBA playoffs
ATLANTA — It really hit Mike Muscala a few days ago when he was listening to the Nets’ starting lineup at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
State: Discard raw milk from Greenfield Dairy
MIDDLEBURG — Consumers should discard raw milk purchased recently from the Greenfield Dairy of Middleburg, which also has temporarily suspended production after Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in the product following routine testing, the state Department of Agriculture announced today.
Penn State police: Three posed nude at Nittany shrine
STATE COLLEGE — Penn State police say three male students who reportedly posed nude for a photo at the university’s Nittany Lion Shrine face school discipline.
- More News Headlines
- Prize claim cost man $1,829