Paul Ryan hunting for votes in Iowa hunting country

BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Do hunters have some sort of “gaydar” equivalent? Seems like it. In Iowa on Tuesday, as GOP vice presidential candidate Paul D. Ryan stumped in three towns along the Mississippi River, he was able to pick the hunters out of the crowd.

“I see a bowhunter over there,” Ryan said, standing on a makeshift stage in the parking lot of a small Republican office in Burlington, on the eastern edge of the state. "That's a man after my own heart.”

He added: “You know I carry my iPhone, it's blaze orange and camouflage. It reminds me that deer season is just around the corner.”

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(Nerd alert: Ryan wears his camo iPhone case clipped to the belt of his khakis. The case is so big that from a distance, it looks like an old-fashioned calculator. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The Wisconsin congressman, who is off the trail in Virginia on Wednesday preparing for his Oct. 11 debate with Vice President Joe Biden, likes to remind his crowds that he’s a lifelong hunter. Frequently, he mocks President Obama’s infamous 2008 comment about people who are bitter, telling supporters, “Hey, I’m a Catholic deer hunter. I am happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion.”

In Burlington, Ryan said he was too busy for bowhunting season this year.

“But gun season is right around the corner,” he said, “and I know down here in the Mississippi Valley, this area, you got really big deer. I would love to come back and help you with your harvest problems."

A few minutes later, Ryan stepped into a small Republican headquarters building, where about a dozen people were calling voters, urging them to cast their votes Nov. 6 for the Republican presidential ticket.

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Ryan shook hands and thanked the volunteers. His protective detail would not let reporters close enough to hear exactly what he said,  but at one point, he became engrossed in a conversation with one volunteer, a middle-aged woman, who showed him photographs of a large buck (looking very much alive). It wasn’t clear if she had hunted the animal.

Ryan seemed to count its antlers as he oohed and aahed over its size.

Seemed like he was following his own advice. Moments earlier he had told the crowd outside: “What we do talking person-to-person, this is how we win elections. Human interaction. The conversations we have to have with one another, that is how we save our country.”

Or, as a hunter might put it, bagging one voter at a time.

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