BRISTOL, Va. - Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan courted voters in Virginia's coal country on Thursday, pledging to support their way of life while asking them send him and Mitt Romney to Washington in a blowout.
He warned that President Barack Obama was trying to put in place tough regulations and higher taxes on coal, which would shut coal mines and hurt economies in Appalachia.
"We have so much energy in this country. Let's use it and get people back to work," Ryan told about 1,500 supporters in Bristol, many of whom were waving miniature American flags.
After that stop, Ryan was heading to Charlottesville for an evening campaign stop. Meanwhile, Obama spoke to a crowd of about 15,000 at a Richmond park.
Ryan said winning in a squeaker wouldn't be enough for the GOP ticket.
"The worst thing that could happen is President Obama gets re-elected and we have more of the same with a debt crisis," Ryan told his audience.
"The second worst thing that could happen is we get elected by default, without a mandate. This is why we're asking you to give us the moral authority and the obligation to honor you by putting this agenda in place to get America back on the right track, so we can get people back to work and we can get our country under control."
Ryan reminded those in attendance of their unique standing in a state that will help determine who wins the presidency, calling it "the most important election in our lifetime, no matter which generation you come from."
"We are picking the destiny, the path of this country for at least a generation," he said. "You get to decide what kind of country you want to have."
He also offered barbs for Obama, saying the president was "offering nothing more than the same" and blowing off Obama's new campaign document outlining his second term by calling it "a slick repackaging of more of the same."
"The president's record has failed. He cannot run on his record. That is why he has reduced his campaign _ the incredibly shrinking Obama campaign _ to all these distortions, to all these divisions, to all this name calling and word- gaming," Ryan said.
"That's not aspirational. That's not hope. That's not change. That's blame. That's division. That's distortion. He's hoping he can get away with it so he can win by default."
Ryan's latest stop in Virginia comes days before Romney returns to the state. Romney will campaign in northern Virginia, Richmond and Virginia Beach on Sunday.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)