By Shawn Regan
---- — DERRY — In stoking support for his running mate Mitt Romney at Pinkerton Academy yesterday, Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan had one message above all others: “We need your help Granite Staters!”
“A handful of states will settle this,” Ryan told an audience of supporters packed into the school’s gymnasium. “You have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to talk to your fellow citizens and show them there’s a better path forward if we stick to our founding principles.”
The latest polls have Obama leading Romney by 3 to 7 percent among likely Granite State voters. New Hampshire is one of about a dozen so-called “battleground states” where the contest is close and is expected to be decided.
Ryan addressed the crowd prior to the kickoff of the state’s GOP convention next door and about an hour before Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was scheduled to speak. It was Ryan’s third trip to New Hampshire since Romney picked the seven-term Wisconsin congressman and House Budget chairman to be his running mate.
In their own speeches, District 19 state Sen. Jim Rausch and Congressmen Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta hyped the upcoming election and called for the help of audience members as they pumped the crowd in anticipation of Ryan’s 9:30 arrival.
“Paul Ryan is going to be our next Vice President, but it won’t happen unless you convince your neighbors that Mitt Romney is the best choice to be our next President,” Rausch said. “It’s imperative that when Fox News starts showing red and blue states on Nov. 6, that New Hampshire shows up brilliant red.”
The theme of the rally was “Victory: Earn It” — an acknowledgement that grassroots volunteers will be key to delivering the state for either Romney or Obama.
“New Hampshire matters for the future of the country,” Guinta said. “I don’t want to wake up Nov. 7 and have to live with Obama for another four years. You’ve got to get out there and make phone calls and knock on doors and do whatever you can do.”
The Republican party imperative was not lost on Derry resident Richard Tauro, who brought his 18-year-old son Nate with him to the rally. Tauro said he decided to attend the event last-minute when a friend with tickets was unable to go.
“I wanted to show my son that politics doesn’t have to be boring, that it can be as exiting as a football game or a concert,” Tauro said, acknowledging the event’s party-like atmosphere as rock-and-roll music blared as guests swayed to the rhythm and waved campaign signs.
Nate said the upcoming presidential election would his first time voting and that he was looking forward to backing the Republican ticket.
“It’s important that Romney wins New Hampshire,” he said. “That’s why I want to be involved.”
Merle Fisher said he traveled from Newburyport to see and hear Ryan.
“Ryan comes across great on TV, but I wanted to see him and Scott Walker in person,” Fisher said.
Ryan arrived with his wife Janna and took the podium to an AC/DC blast at 9:45.
“Thank you so much Granite Staters for helping to send Mitt Romney to the White House and Barack Obama back to Chicago,” Ryan began, to the delight of the crowd.
“This is not an ordinary election,” Ryan said. “This is about what kind of people and country we are going to be for a generation.”
Ryan cited nationwide high employment, job losses, mounting federal deficits and repealing ObamaCare as among the top reasons for replacing Obama.
“He made a lot of promises in the name of hope and change, but when the rhetoric was over his ideas and policies did not lead to prosperity,” Ryan said of the president.
As attendees streamed out of the Pinkerton Academy gym, Paul Veto was filling his arms with Romney-Ryan signs the campaign was handing out. Veto didn’t attend the rally, but was there to pick up a friend, he said.
“These are going on my lawn and anyone that will let me put one up,” Veto said. “I’m just glad to live in a state where my vote counts,” he said in a nod to the closeness of the presidential contest here, unlike Massachusetts.
After New Hampshire, Ryan flew to Ohio. Vice President Joe Biden attended a Democratic rally in Florida.