BY DAVID SHEPARDSON / DETROIT NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Washington — Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan told Michigan campaign volunteers Saturday that the Wolverine State is “critical” in the November election.
In a conference call with Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, and Republican campaign volunteers across the state, Ryan — the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee — thanked campaign volunteers.
The Romney campaign said 2,400 volunteers in Michigan were going to contact 100,000 Michigan voters Saturday with phone calls and home visits — and they called it a record-breaking effort for the campaign.
Ryan — who was selected by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate last month — says volunteers are critical.
“There is no substitute for this human contact — for people, grass roots, getting out, knocking on doors, talking to their fellow citizens, educating them about the issues, showing them the stakes,” Ryan said. “There literally is nothing better that we can do to get this country back on the right track.”
Ryan said the election was crucial. “This really is the most important election in our lifetimes — no matter what generation you come from,” Ryan said. “Michigan is just so critical. I mean there are just a handful of states that really, literally will determine the direction and the trajectory of America… for a long time.”
He referred to the ticket as a “Michigan guy and a Wisconsin guy.” The pair made a campaign appearance in Oakland County in August but have no immediate plans to return to Michigan.
“Being on the airwaves and everything — obviously that is very important and the campaigns are doing that — but there is never any (alternative) for personal contact,” Miller said. “Michigan has a front-row seat into this incredibly important election. This is time for us all to put our foot on the gas and just keep it going.”
Neither President Barack Obama nor Romney’s campaign have aired TV ads in Michigan — but Romney and Obama’s campaigns both recently started advertising in Wisconsin.
Most polls show Obama with a solid lead in Michigan and the state hasn’t voted for a Republican since 1988. Conservative political action committees pulled their TV ads from Michigan in recent weeks. Politico reported Friday that conservative groups may resume advertising in Michigan on Romney’s behalf, citing anonymous sources, but the report hasn’t been confirmed.
Romney’s campaign has 22 field offices in Michigan and about 30 paid staff. Obama has about 50 paid staff in Michigan.
Ryan hoped volunteers would be working until the games start later today — with Michigan kicking off at 3:30 p.m. against the University of Massachusetts.
Ryan said he was heading home to Wisconsin for a cookout at his mom’s house — and said he’d have the Badgers on TV in one room — and Michigan State-Notre Dame on another set.
Ryan declined to endorse Michigan State or Michigan in today’s games. “Go Big Ten, how about that?”
Miller prodded Ryan to say: “Go Michigan.”
He declined noting that Michigan State had derailed Wisconsin’s college football title hopes last year. “We’re all Big Ten people, let’s put it that way.”