Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will be in southeast Iowa on Tuesday, making stops in Clinton, Muscatine and Burlington.
The stops are part of a two-day swing through Iowa, a key swing state in the 2012 election.
Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, is kicking off the trip with a Monday night rally at Loras College in Dubuque, where his grandfather went to school.
This will be the first time Ryan has been to this part of the state since being picked for the GOP ticket by presidential nominee Mitt Romney. He has been to Iowa but only to the Des Moines area and Cedar Rapids.
“We’re getting him outside the major cities, which we needed to do,” said Dave Kochel, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign in Iowa.
Romney campaign and Republican officials have said they’re placing a premium on eastern Iowa, including the Quad-City area. Sarah Pompei, a Romney spokeswoman, said voters in this part of the state are open to their message. Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, performed well here in the 2010 midterms, and GOP leaders said their economic message sells in this part of the state.
In some parts of southeastern Iowa, the economy hasn’t responded as well as it has in other parts of the state. That might be highlighted by a campaign that has tried to keep the economy the focus of its efforts.
This also is an area that campaign officials say is similar to Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, a southern Wisconsin city of 64,000 people. He has relatives on his wife’s side of the family who live in Clinton, and his mother-in-law grew up there, the campaign says.
Ryan also will visit some of the same areas that Vice President Joe Biden toured last week. Biden was in Muscatine and Burlington.
The Republican ticket has been criticized in some quarters for focusing too much of its travel on the Des Moines area. Romney was in Bettendorf on Aug. 22, but the GOP ticket hasn’t matched the breadth of travel that President Barack Obama and Biden have engaged in.
There were several weeks in August and September that the president made weekly stops in the state, including a three-day bus tour that stopped in Iowa’s smaller towns and its urban areas. That frequency has tailed off somewhat, but some polls have said the president has gained ground here since then. Some Republicans have challenged the accuracy of those polls.
Ryan is popular with grassroots Republicans, and his visit is likely to draw sizeable crowds. In addition to Iowa, Republicans hope to put Wisconsin in play. The state voted for Obama in 2008, but with a favorite son on the ballot, Republicans hope to turn the state. The Real Clear Politics polling average for Wisconsin said Thursday that Obama was up by nearly 8 points there. In Iowa, it said the president was up by nearly 5 percentage points.