(Newsroom America) -- Rep. Paul Ryan joined running mate and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the former's home state of Wisconsin Sunday for the duo's first campaign event, as more than 10,000 people turned out to give them a raucous welcome, local reports said.
"It's good to be home," said Ryan, at times brushing aside tears and responding to cheers from the crowd, which was estimated to be in excess of 10,000 by a campaign spokesman. Official numbers were not yet available, however.
The event took place at the Waukesha County Expo Center, and marked the first time they appeared together on the campaign trail since Romney named Ryan, a rock-ribbed fiscal conservative and Tea Party favorite, as his running mate a day earlier.
Ryan spoke about family's deep roots in Wisconsin as well as his ties to Janesville, where "we live on the block I grew up on."
"My veins run with cheese, bratwurst, a little Spotted Cow, Leinie's and some Miller," Ryan said. "I was raised on the Packers, Badgers, Bucks and Brewers."
"I like to hunt here, I like to fish here, I like to snowmobile here. I even think ice fishing is interesting. I'm a Wisconsinite through and through," he said.
Though the event was centered mostly on Ryan, he took time to salute three other Wisconsinites: Gov. Scott Walker, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
"We're just guys from Tosa, Kenosha, Oshkosh and Janesville," Ryan told the cheering crowd. "What we learned in this state, just a little while ago, is that we want to elect men and women who run for office and tell us who they really are, what they really believe, what they're really going to do, and when they get elected, they do that. That's what we do here in Wisconsin."
He went on to frame the choice between the newly formed GOP ticket and President Barack Obama as a stark choice over the direction of the country.
"Do we want that opportunity society, a safety net, a land of upward mobility, where people can make the most of their lives, where people can get ahead?" he said. "Or, do we want to go down the path of debt, doubt and despair. Do we want to copy Europe? No."
He added: "We want to have the kind of an election where we earn your support, where we win an election because you said, 'Go fix the mess in Washington.' So when we win the election, we go fix this mess in Washington."
Romney praised his VP selection "as someone who is a leader . . . who has real character, who loves America," before launching a broadside at Obama.
"If you follow the campaign of Barack Obama, he's going to do everything in his power to make this the lowest, meanest negative campaign in history. We're not going to let that happen," Romney said, declaring: "Mr. President, take your campaign out of the gutter and let's talk about the real issues that America faces."
Romney and Ryan immediately came under fire from Democrats over Ryan's proposed federal budgets, in which he calls for major entitlement reform which would include transforming Medicare into a voucher system for younger Americans.
Democrats have accused Ryan of calling for massive cuts in Medicare, but Republicans have countered that Obama's health care reform measure, recently upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, cuts nearly $700 billion in Medicare spending over the next decade, to help pay for it.
"My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida," Ryan told CBS News' "60 Minutes" program during an interview Sunday. "Our point is, we need to preserve their benefits because government made promises to them that they've organized their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms that have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late '90s."
In an interview on CNN, Obama's senior spokesman, David Axelrod, labeled Ryan a "right-wing ideologue" and said Romney's choice of him as VP "has helped further define the race."
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