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Darien - Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was in Connecticut on Sunday for fundraisers, saying the money raised in the Democratic leaning state will help him and presidential candidate Mitt Romney "cut through the clutter" and get their message out to voters in the final weeks of the election.
Ryan told the roughly 300 supporters who gathered inside the posh Woodway Country Club ballroom for an afternoon reception that he realizes they don't see the campaign ads airing in battleground states, given the edge President Barack Obama has in Connecticut. "It just comes with the territory," he chuckled.
But he stressed that their contributions will have an impact on the race.
"It's the resources that you're providing that allow us to cut through the clutter and go straight to the people of this country and offer them the clear choice that we're offering," he said. "Please know that the resources that you're providing us give us the ability to enter what we call the debate phase of this campaign."
The fundraiser was one of three Ryan was scheduled to attend in Connecticut, a wealthy state known as a frequent stop on political money-raising tours. Other appearances were planned at fundraisers at private homes in West Hartford and Greenwich. Campaign officials said Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team, was expected to attend the Darien event.
Accompanied by his wife Janna and her sister, Ryan had no public campaign events or rallies in Connecticut on Sunday.
At the country club, Ryan accused Obama of being unable to run on his record and told the crowd the president will wage a negative campaign in the weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
"He's going to try and clutter, he's going to try and divide, he's going to distort to try to distract, to win this thing by default," Ryan told the crowd. "It's what we call a proverbial straw man argument. Set up your opponent as somebody who he isn't ... It's intellectually lazy. It's a false choice and a false dichotomy and we're not going to let him get away with it."
Much of Ryan's 13-minute speech focused on the economy.
He said voters have a choice between "a stagnant economy that fosters dependency" and an agenda of more borrowing, spending and consolidation of power in Washington, D.C., versus a "dynamic, pro-growth economy that fosters upward mobility and opportunity."
"If there were ever a time when you needed an actual leader to do this, to implement this, to articulate it, it is now," Ryan said. "And that's why I'm so excited to be standing with a man whose life, whose story is the epitome of this kind of leadership. The man and the moment are meeting perfectly."
A recent University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll showed Obama slightly ahead in Connecticut with 46 percent support to Romney's 43 percent. The telephone survey of 1,186 likely voters, conducted Sept. 1-11 had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Two top state Republicans - U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon and 5th Congressional District candidate Andrew Roraback - were not expected to appear with Ryan. Both cited scheduling conflicts.
McMahon and Roraback have touted themselves as moderate Republicans, despite efforts by state Democrats to link them to Ryan and his budget-cutting proposals affecting Medicare and Social Security.
"Linda McMahon can run from her party's leader, but she can't hide her support for his right-wing Republican policies," said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, the Democratic Senate candidate who is in a close race with the former wrestling executive.
Former naval officer Steve Obsitnik, the 4th District Republican candidate, was expected to attend a reception at the Greenwich home of state Sen. Scott Frantz. Tickets for the event ranged from $1,000 per person for a reception to $10,000 per person for dinner. Tickets at the West Hartford home of businessman Arnold Chase and at the Woodway Country Club ranged from $1,000 per person for a reception and $10,000 per person for a roundtable.
A Romney/Ryan campaign spokesman said he could not provide a total amount of how much was expected in contributions from the Connecticut trip. Former Republican state Sen. Jamie McLaughlin told the Hartford Courant the host committee expected to raise $800,000 from the Darien event.