MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (AP) — Hundreds of Republican faithful cheered Saturday as Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan urged Pennsylvanians to back the GOP ticket so Mitt Romney can use business experience to solve the nation's economic problems.
"We have a jobs crisis. Wouldn't it be nice to have a job creator in the White House for a change?" Ryan asked, provoking an approving roar from the throng that nearly filled a private airplane hangar at Harrisburg International Airport.
The Wisconsin congressman's visit was part of a daylong tour that included Ohio, Virginia and Florida, and it came one day before Romney is slated to visit Pennsylvania for the first time since September.
Independent polls have shown Democratic President Barack Obama leading all year in Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes are the fifth-largest prize. Romney's campaign hopes the 11th-hour blitz of personal appearances and TV ads will turn that around before Tuesday's election.
"Unfortunately for Romney, showing up three days before the election won't convince Pennsylvanians to go backward," Obama's campaign said in response to Ryan's comments.
Some of Pennsylvania's best-known GOP politicians joined Ryan on the stage. They included Gov. Tom Ridge, former national homeland security chief Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor; and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who shared an apartment with Ryan earlier in their congressional careers.
Twice in his brief remarks, Ryan criticized Democratic President Barack Obama for telling supporters a day earlier that voting would be their "best revenge." Romney also has faulted Obama for the remark and released a TV ad bearing the same message.
"Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote of love for country," Ryan said.
Countering the GOP pep rally, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., staged a news conference on a closed roadway not far from the aviation service facility where the rally was held.
Schwartz said she believes Romney's 11th-hour push in Pennsylvania is a desperate act that reflects his campaign's failure to overtake Obama in Ohio.
Chafee, an ex-Republican who is now the nation's only independent governor, said the nation's economic problems stem from Republican policies that preceded Obama and created deficits that hurt the middle class.
"Pennsylvanians, you cannot let these people back into office," he said.
"They're not middle-town," he said, referring to the town where the airport is located. "They're far-right town."