Paul Ryan visits La Crosse, promotes food drive

Published On: Oct 30 2012 09:16:09 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 30 2012 11:02:21 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan spent part of his Tuesday visiting a food drive at the La Crosse County Republican headquarters, 58 Copeland Ave.

"This is what Americans do, what Wisconsinites do. So, we just wanted to come by and give our gratitude to everybody," said Ryan during the brief afternoon appearance.

Dozens of Republican supporters showed up to see the Wisconsin Congressman and to drop off their donations.

"(We) kind of get to double dip today. We get to see Paul Ryan but we also get to do something for everyone else," said Jennifer Buchner, of Onalaska.

Ryan did not take any questions and Republicans made sure to say it was not a campaign event. Both campaigns were officially off the campaign trail in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"We don't have an organized speech or anything. He's coming in to help us box up some of this food," said Julian Bradley, chair of the La Crosse County Republican Party.

However, in a state where polls show only a 1% margin between the candidates, one political analyst says every visit has a clear purpose.

"Candidates have gotten very sensitive to disasters (and) to not make it look like they are using it for political purposes," said Joe Heim, a political science professor at UW-La Crosse.

"So they don't want to make it look like they are campaigning when other people are suffering some place else in the country. That's what it comes down to," said Heim.

One of the people who stopped to drop off food was Ilona Hansen.

"I'm just here to help out however I can," said Hansen, of Joseph Ridge.

She has two brothers who live north of Philadelphia that she's been unable to get in touch with since the hurricane hit.

"I know the last time that they had a big one, there was a lot of water out in that area and they were kind of stranded for a little while so I'm kind of worried about them now," said Hansen.

Food donations at the GOP headquarters will be accepted throughout the week.

Paul Ryan does have three campaign stops scheduled for Wednesday, including one in Eau Claire at 8:45 a.m.