CNN — In a further sign of Republicans' efforts to take back Virginia in November, Rep. Paul Ryan has spent more days in the commonwealth than any other battleground state since he became Mitt Romney's running mate.
Ryan held a rally in central Virginia near Richmond on Friday morning, and later in the day headed to an event in Northern Virginia, a part of the state that votes increasingly Democratic.
"Virginia is a very important state -- you have heard it from everybody," Ryan said at his first event Friday to more than 2,000 people at Deep Run High School in Henrico County - a key battleground that went for Obama by only 679 votes in 2008.
After he told the crowd how much he enjoyed hunting and fishing in Virginia -- "I've caught some big bass here" -- he added, "This is a state that has it all, and this is a state that will determine it all and we have a clear choice."
In 2008 President Barack Obama became the first Democrat to take the commonwealth in a presidential election since 1964, winning by roughly six points. But the Romney campaign has reason to believe they could pick up Virginia's 13 electoral votes because the president's lead here has diminished.
According to a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News survey released earlier this month, 49% of likely voters in Virginia say they support the president, with 45% saying they back Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. The president's four point advantage is within the survey's sampling error.
The race has tightened since March, when Obama led Romney 50%-42%, and the beginning of June, when Obama was ahead 47%-42%.
Romney announced the House Budget chairman from Wisconsin as his running mate last weekend in Virginia. After Ryan made his debut in front of the USS Wisconsin with Romney in Norfolk, the duo held rallies in Ashland and Manassas.
Ryan put the importance of winning the state in starker terms at a fund-raiser Thursday in Richmond with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"Virginia has an enormous influence on this. And thank heavens our fate is in the hand in Virginians and not anybody else. And I want to thank you for that, for what you've done, and I want to thank you for what you're about to do because you're going to help save this country by bringing these electoral votes for Mitt Romney," Ryan said Thursday night.
The Richmond fund-raiser netted about $500,000 for the Romney-Ryan effort. The Republican vice presidential candidate will attend another fund-raiser in Arlington Friday evening.
Speaking to an overflow crowd of about 600 people in Glen Allen Friday, Romney's running made said he was relying on Virginians to get the GOP ticket into the White House.
"We're going to trust you our fellow citizens," Ryan said. "It's in your hands, it's in our hands, to get this thing right. And that's the good news. The good news is it's not too late. We can turn things around. We can get this on the right track. We can fix this mess... it's not too late."
He added, "Winston Churchill, probably my favorite Brit, he said the Americans can be counted on to do the right thing only after they've exhausted all the other possibilities. I think that's probably where we are, so let's get it right, let's do it."
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