The presidential polls are deadlocked in Florida. You would not have known that from the raucous reception that greeted Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Monday afternoon at Main Beach Park.
Ryan urged a crowd of about 500 diehard Republicans to turn out at the polls because the election might change the shape of the country. He also asked people to keep residents in the Northeast in their thoughts because of Hurricane Sandy.
Earlier, the Mitt Romney campaign announced that it would cancel remaining events Monday and all events Tuesday because of the storm.
Ryan received a thunderous ovation from the crowd, even though he arrived almost an hour late. It was his only planned event of the day.
He started out his speech talking about Hurricane Sandy, urging people to donate to the Red Cross but soon veered back to making the case for electing Romney and himself.
"You're not just picking a president," Ryan said. "We are choosing a trajectory for this country that will last a generation."
Like all vice presidential nominees, Ryan sang the praises of the man who put him on the ticket.
"Mitt Romney has the moral character and vision to lead this country," he said.
The current administration is out of ideas and will only keep taxing and spending without improving the economy, Ryan said.
"All this spending and regulation hasn't made this country better," he said. "There's a better way, get government and regulation out of the way."
Before Ryan arrived, people in the audience expressed optimism that the Republican ticket would win.
Lake Butler resident Jackie Kaemmer rolled her eyes when told that polls had the race essentially tied in Florida.
"I don't believe the polls," Kaemmer said. "I think Romney's going to win big."
She said the polls are being manipulated to get people to turn out.
A Public Policy Polling poll released Monday had Obama ahead by 49-48, and a CNN poll had Romney ahead 50-49.
Before Ryan arrived, state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, told the crowd this election was similar to 2000, when George W. Bush won Florida, and thus the election, by 537 votes.
"We can't afford four more years of this president," Thrasher said. "Bring a friend with you to the polls. Every vote is going to count."
U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., told the crowd Romney-Ryan needed to win big in North Florida to offset other areas of the state that tend to vote Democratic. And Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam told the Nassau County crowd their county matters as much as bigger counties because a big turnout in rural counties will help the Republicans win.
"All of us owe him [Ryan] and Mitt Romney all of our best efforts to turn out the vote in Florida," Putnam said.
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