GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan raises $1M at Knox fundraiser

GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan raises $1M at Knox fundraiser

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Paul Ryan didn't speak to reporters as he got off the plane at the airport. Paul Ryan didn't speak to reporters as he got off the plane at the airport.
Protesters lined the street outside the hotel. Protesters lined the street outside the hotel.
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KNOXVILLE (WATE/AP) - Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a campaign stop in Knoxville Thursday to raise funds and talk to supporters at a private luncheon.

Ryan arrived at McGhee Tyson Airport's TAC Air Terminal around 11:45 a.m. before heading downtown for the fundraising event at the Marriott Hotel, 500 E. Hill Avenue.

Supporters paid $1,000 a plate to attend the luncheon. Reporters were not allowed at the event and Ryan didn't speak as he got off the plane at the airport.

For those who did hear from Ryan, the VP candidate did not disappoint.

"He just said we need a new direction for our country. We're going in the wrong direction," said attendee Lee Miracle.

"He pumped us all up. He got us excited about the election," said supporter Herman Pauley.

Gov. Bill Haslam introduced Ryan at the fundraiser. Sen. Bob Corker was also in attendance.

"He got a very warm reception," said Tennessee Rep. Ryan Haynes (R) of Knoxville. "I think the fact is...they realize this is the real change the country needs."

Ryan told those who attended that Democratic President Barack Obama's policies have the country headed toward economic crisis similar to what's occurring in some European countries.

The event raised $1 million. Organizers believe that's a record amount for a political fundraiser in Knoxville.

About two dozen protesters lined the street outside the hotel, banging a drum and waving signs criticizing the Republican presidential ticket.

"Tennessee is not a Romney state," said Tennessee state Rep. Joe Armstrong (D) of Knoxville. "If you look in the primary, Santorum won Tennessee. Newt Gingrich made a good showing here in Tennessee. So Tennesseans aren't sold on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."

The visit was the Wisconsin congressman's first since being named Mitt Romney's running mate in August. Ryan went to Memphis for another fundraiser Thursday.

Romney made a campaign visit to Knoxville in March at West Hills Elementary School.

Some portions of this report copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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