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TV Ads, VP Visits Suggest Wisconsin A Toss-Up

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(credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)

(credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)

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By Colin Smith, WCCO Radio

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The battle for the Badger state is heating up. Television viewers in Wisconsin will begin seeing President barack Obama’s ads starting Wednesday, just five days after Mitt Romney’s ads hit the airwaves.

Congressman Paul Ryan visits De Pere on Wednesday, just one day before Vice President Joe Biden travels to Eau Claire.

“Twenty-five or 30 years ago you rarely saw national candidates come to Wisconsin,” said Wes Chapin, director of political science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. “Over the past few elections they’ve started to come regularly, especially this year.”

President Obama won Wisconsin by 14 points in 2008, but this year Democrats aren’t taking the 10 electoral votes for granted.

Meanwhile Republicans hope the addition of Ryan, seen as a rising star in the party, will put Wisconsin and other Midwestern states in play.

“Both Republicans and Democrats have said they enjoy being in the room with Ryan,” Chapin said. “It’s a clear choice by the Romney campaign to try and bring states like Iowa and Minnesota into the picture.”

While some pundits have said Romney may be losing the likeability battle with Obama, Midwestern voters have embraced Ryan. A CNN poll conducted in early September revealed 54 percent of Midwesterners view Ryan favorably, while 37 percent have an unfavorable view.

Forty-seven percent of those likely voters had a positive view of Biden, compared to 48 percent who see him negatively.

Republican are quick to point out, that’s an 18 percent edge for Ryan.

But turning Wisconsin red takes a lot more than charisma and charm. Its voters haven’t supported a Republican Presidential Candidate since 1984, and Democrats control Milwaukee and Madison, the state’s most populous cities.

And while Ryan’s rhetoric has been relatively optimistic and refreshing for independents, Chapin warns that historically, the campaign role of a vice president often ranges from negative to vitriolic.

It’s a formula that could make Wisconsin ground zero for political mudslinging.

“Very often the (VP candidates) are asked to play good-cop, bad-cop and deliver the most hard-hitting attacks,” Chapin said. “I would expect Ryan to bring a lot of criticism to the campaign and Biden to do the same.”

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