Paul Ryan, the Republican Representative for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and Mitt Romney’s running mate, made a campaign stop at the Rockingham County Fair Grounds on Friday. His visit marks the first of any presidential or vice presidential candidate to the central Shenandoah Valley.
Besides Representative Ryan, speakers also included: Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke.
The event itself was quite well attended. Most estimates I’ve read peg the audience about 3,000. Like the recent Obama rally in Charlottesville, each person had to pass through “airport style security” overseen by both the Secret Service and the TSA.
Reaction to the gathering was mixed. Although most of the people that I spoke with enjoyed Ryan’s speech, the event was plagued with a number of shortfalls.
First, no one could bring in liquids, which was expected. However, the fact that one could not even get a cup of water without paying for it seemed completed absurd. Would a person have to suffer through their thirst if he or she could not pay $2.00 for a beverage?
Second, the venue did not allow for a majority of the spectators to see Paul Ryan. The organizers set up a ring of fences around the platform and only a portion could enter this circle. Although raised, the platform was not nearly high enough for many people to even catch a glimpse of the man who could very well be our next vice president.
However, one positive aspect, as compared to the Obama event, was that the police did not close down traffic in a highly central location for the better part of an hour, which would have wasted the time of countless residents.
Overall, I would rate Ryan’s event a success even though, as mentioned, there were several aspects that could have been and should have been handled in a better manner.
So the next question is will any of the five presidential candidates: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Jill Stein, make a stop in the Shenandoah Valley between now and the election? If you will recall, four years ago Barack Obama won the city of Harrisonburg after making a speech at JMU while John McCain merely sent a relative to the local GOP headquarters. After all, personal campaigning is an important element to electoral success and Ryan’s visit on Friday should serve to bolster the local Republican effort. Now how will the other candidates respond? Our first answer comes tomorrow when Libertarian Party candidate Judge Jim Gray speaks at JMU.
As a final note, I want to shout out a special thanks to Helen Shibut of Madison Liberty for the picture of Paul Ryan. As mentioned, I happened to be one of the countless spectators who could not get close enough to get a usable shot.