Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is expected to refer to his irish roots and his ancestors' struggles to make it in America in his convention acceptance speech tonight.
He gave a preview of his remarks while speaking to thousands of supporters in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin.
Ryan spoke movingly of his ancestors' journey from Ireland to the United States and his vision of a community centric America.
Ryan, a fifth generation Irish American, joked about his heritage saying he must have “67 cousins” in his hometown.
Although the VP candidate rarely speaks about his own background, he told the crowd about his family’s history saying it “is not that different from most Americans’ stories.
“You know, back in the 1850s, the potatoes stopped growing in Ireland, so our great-great-grandfather, with the shirt on his back, made his way to Boston, worked his way on the railroad to get enough money to buy a farm.
“And that brought him to the outskirts of Janesville, Wisconsin. And he looked around, and it was summertime, and he said: ‘This looks just like Ireland.’”
He said immigration to America was not just a journey to “a piece of geography” but to an idea.
Ryan continued, “The reason our family came here and the reason everybody else’s family came here is because of what this country stands for…You know, it’s the only country founded on an idea, and that idea is precious.”
During the speech Ryan continued on this idea of an ideal “American Dream”. He told the 2,000 plus crowd, “We live together in freedom. And what we do in our communities is we look out for one another. That’s what’s so special; that’s what government can’t replace or displace.”
Referencing local charities and organizations he told the crowd, “There are the things we do in our communities that bring us together to help our neighbors in need.”
“You know, they call it civil society. I call it Janesville, Wisconsin. And what is important is that our government respects this, that our government honors this, that our government works for the people, and not the other way around, so that we can do this.”
The VP candidate’s “send-off” speech, at his alma mater, Joseph A. Craig High School on Monday, acted as a preview to the speech he will give at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.
He was joined on the stage by his wife Janna, and his three children - Elizabeth, Charles and Samuel. His mother, Betty, was also at the rally. His brother Tobin, who recently spoke about his family's Irish ancestry, introduced his brother to the crowd.
It seemed that this visit home was an emotional one. According to the Washington Post Ryan choked up as he caught the eyes of friends and family in the crowd.
As Ryan heads down to the Republican Convention in Tampa on Tuesday he’s made it clear what his message will be.
He told WISN on Tuesday “What we want to accomplish in Tampa is to put a very clear contrast with where the president has taken the country ... we show the country our specific solutions for how to get the country back on track."
"Mitt Romney and I feel that we must honor the people of this country by letting them choose which direction you want to take the country."
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