By Jenn Bernstein and Cherri Gregg
WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan spoke to a crowd at the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center Tuesday afternoon.
Pennsylvania is one of his first campaign stops in his new role as the GOP vice presidential candidate. It’s expected to be a hot bed for this year’s presidential election and Ryan’s campaign didn’t choose West Chester as one of its first stops at random.
This affluent suburb is the hub of Chester County with Its vibrant small and large business community, university, and picturesque rolling hills – it’s known as influential when it comes to elections.
“I think he wants to speak to people here because I think it’s a great network of business owners and middle class America,” said the Chester County Chamber of Commerce’s Board Chairman Michael DeHaven. “He wants to talk to the job creators and that’s who we are.”
Some people KYW spoke with have never seen Ryan speak in person. Some only knew about him from what they read and what they’ve seen on television, so they looked forward to hearing what he has to say.
Chester County is also looked at as a potential swing county. In 2008, then presidential hopeful Barack Obama took Pennsylvania – and specifically Chester County.
In 2004, Pennsylvania voted for Democrat John Kerry, but Chester County voted to re-elect Republican George Bush. In the 2000 election, Chester County voted Republican, helping put George Bush in office.
“If the Republicans win Chester County, they have a good chance of maybe winning the other suburban counties as well and also taking the state,” said DeHaven. That’s exactly what Republicans hope happens, according to the party’s State Committee Deputy Chair Renee Amoore.
“If you don’t win Pennsylvania, you’re not going to win at all. We are a swing state, it could go either way.” She says there are four counties in the state that are essential wins – Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks counties.
If the party can sweep those they can offset the challenge of Philadelphia – which votes predominantly Democratic. There’s a lot more people in those particular four counties, they’ll get out the vote, they’ll make it happen. We’re unified in particular after the convention, we’re going to come back strong,” said Amoore.
This will likely not be the last time there’s a high profile political figure in this area before election night, and Chester County looks forward to every visit. “We’re happy to have both sides here, to ask us our opinions of what we’re looking for in a president,” said DeHaven.