Ryan fundraiser may break record for campaign

Ryan raises cash, rallies faithful in Georgia

Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of abandoning America’s founding principles and told Georgia donors their money will help fuel the fight in battleground states.

Ryan, a Wisconsin member of Congress, told hundreds of supporters in a ballroom at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta that he and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can right the country’s ship if elected next month.

Introduced by Gov. Nathan Deal, Ryan said Obama has made “his presidency so much smaller” and said the Democratic incumbent “can’t run on all these broken promises. Trillion-dollar deficit each and every year.”

“Since he can’t run on his record he’s going to try and distort ours,” Ryan said. “He’s going to distort and he’s going to distract people in this country so he can try and win by default.”

A campaign aide said about 600 people paid a minimum of $500 for a cocktail-party setting with limited seating and a cash bar at Cobb Energy Centre. A $10,000 contribution bought a photograph with Ryan and $25,000 bought a seat at a round-table discussion.

The 42-year-old congressman, a favorite of fiscal hawks, broke no new ground in his 11-minute speech, but gave Georgia Republicans optimism for November.

With Georgia solidly in Romney’s column, his supporters here have kept a steady gaze on a handful of swing states, such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire, where the race will likely be decided.

But Eric Gray, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia, said Romney already showed he didn’t “care for 47 percent” of Americans, and “today they (the Romney/Ryan team) didn’t care about 100 percent of Atlanta commuters.”

Law enforcement blocked a huge section of I-75 from the airport to I-285 during the afternoon rush hour to accommodate Ryan, something that has also happened when Obama visited.

With 13 days until Election Day, opinion polls depict a close race nationally. Romney’s campaign claims momentum as well as the lead in Florida and North Carolina, two battleground states with a combined 44 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Obama’s aides insist the president is ahead or tied with his rival in both of those states and in the other seven decisive battlegrounds.

Earlier Wednesday, in Nevada, Romney vowed to “get this economy cooking again.” Nov. 6, he said, “will make a difference for the nation, will make a difference for the families of the nation and will make a difference for your family, individually and specifically.”

Afterward, Romney returned to Ohio and Iowa.

Obama on Wednesday launched a seven-state blitz that began in Iowa, and is slated to reach Colorado, California, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Florida before the end of the day Thursday.

“We’re going to pull an all-nighter. No sleep,” Obama said.

The Electoral College map explained Romney’s focus on Ohio — a state no Republican has lost in a winning presidential campaign — as well as on Iowa. Together, they account for 24 electoral votes out of the 270 needed.

Money raised in Georgia, Ryan said, helps the fight in those key states.

“It helps us mobilize voters,” he said. “Helps us get people to the polls, make sure every American understands the significance of this race,” which, he said, “is the most important election of our generation no matter what generation you come from.”

Ryan vowed that Romney would not “spend the next four years blaming other people” or abandon the principles upon which the country was founded.

“We’re definitely not going to try and transform this country into something it was never intended to be,” Ryan said. “We believe in those founding principles. We’re not going to replace them. We’re going to reapply them.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.