VIENNA - Hundreds of people crowded into an airport hangar at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport here Monday to hear Paul Ryan speak and to cheer Mitt Romney to the White House.
The importance of Ohio's 18 electoral votes has brought candidates from both parties to battle over the state that has become more of a guillotine than a swing state in deciding the next president.
Arriving in Vienna Monday night left just hours for the vice presidential candidate to muster up more votes for Romney in his bid to unseat President Barack Obama.
Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan leads the 11th-hour election rally at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna late Monday night. Photo by Michael Taylor
"This is not an ordinary election," said Ryan, facing the crowd, "We need serious leadership."
Pointing to a massive "Real Change: Day One" poster hanging next to an equally immense U.S. flag, Ryan told the crowd, "We believe the government works for the people, not the other way around."
Ryan promised that he and Romney would not "duck the country's hard issues," but would meet them head on. He ushered in the urgency of Romney's need for Ohio's votes.
Parties plan parties for tonight
WARREN - Democrats and Republicans in Trumbull and Mahoning counties are holding parties tonight to cheer on their candidates and celebrate sought-after victories.
In Trumbull County, the Republican party will be hosting a party at Salvatore's Italian Grill in Howland from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Democrats are gathering at Enzo's in Warren at 7:30 p.m. for an event hosted by the county party. Another event, at McMenamy's Restaurant and Banquet Center in Niles, sponsored by the Democratic Women's Caucus of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, begins at 8 p.m.
In Mahoning County, Republicans will begin gathering about 6:30 p.m. at the party headquarters in Boardman; and Democrats, at 7 p.m. at St. Luke's Hall in Boardman.
"All of your fellow countrymen are looking towards you," Ryan said, "as Ohio goes, so goes the country."
These critical voters began arriving at 6:45 p.m. and waited in the frigid hangar listening to Tim Rushlow, lead singer of Little Texas, playing guitar on a small side stage. They sipped hot chocolate and warm apple cider as they waited for Ryan's arrival at 9:30 p.m.
Bill Burham and his wife, Sherry, came to the event with their 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, "to see the political process in action," said Bill, since his children are "old enough to understand."
Many others were there just for the spectacle.
Diane and Mark Sarver of Columbiana said they already voted but came out "looking for a little excitement," and to "validate everything we know about him and his campaign."
"I'm hoping to hear that Romney's going to keep our jobs going," said Deborah Carissimi, who drove from Boardman.
Michael Postiglione came from Grove City, Pa., simply because he said he is getting older and he's never been to a political rally.
As the hangar filled with Romney/Ryan supporters, custom placards displaying the phrase "The Mahoning Valley Believes" were passed out and Romney's political advertisements were played on a large screen in the back.
Ryan began his speech by introducing his family and listing friends he has in Ohio. He went on to endorse Romney's work ethic and vision for the country.
"We don't have to settle for this," said Ryan of the nation's economy, "we deserve better."
"Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote" said Ryan, "and we're asking you to vote out of love of this country."
Ryan spoke for about 15 minutes, promising "real change" and was met with cheers and chants from the crowd.
Jean Ross, of Howland, thought Ryan was well received and said she is "just happy that there is someone with values and morals running."
Carol Rottkamp, also of Howland, said she thought Ryan's speech was "wonderful, so honest and real."
Also Monday evening, Romney stopped in Columbus with his wife before heading to Manchester, N.H. Obama also campaigned in Columbus Monday before heading to Des Moines, Iowa.