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Aug 282012

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(JANESVILLE, Wis.) — Paul Ryan had an emotional homecoming in Wisconsin Monday at a rally meant to send him off to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

He hopped on the stage, after an introduction by his older brother Tobin, saying, “Hello Janesville it’s good to be home!”

Ryan then stood on the stage, taking in the about 2,000 people at the Joseph A. Craig High School that came to see the hometown boy at his alma mater.

“You know I think I recognize just about every face in this room,” he said.

Ryan’s voice cracked when he talked about the community and his commitment to it.  He then told his own family story, one that could very well be on display this week at the Republican National Convention, where he will be formally added to the Republican presidential ticket as Mitt Romney‘s running mate.

“Our family story is not different than most Americans’ family stories,” Ryan said.  “You know back in the 1850s the potatoes stopped growing in Ireland so my great-great-grandfather with the shirt on his back made his way to Boston, worked his way on the railroads to get enough money to buy a farm and that brought him to the outskirts of Janesville, Wis., and he looked around and it was summertime and he said this looks just like Ireland.  Then came winter and he said ‘oh crap’ but they made a go of it and lots of immigrants came in those years to this town.”

The concept of the “American idea” is something likely to reappear in Ryan’s speech to the GOP convention in Tampa on Wednesday, according to an aide.

“Friends, family, this is a defining moment for our country,” Ryan said.  “This is not an ordinary election because it’s not an ordinary time, we have a big choice to make.  We’re not just picking the next president for a few years, we are picking the pathway for America for a generation.  And what Mitt Romney and I pledge is that you get to choose what kind of country do we want to have, what kind of people do we want to be.”

“It comes down to that because the stakes of this election are so high,” he continued.  “We’ve seen what the president has offered.  We have seen the path he has placed us on.  It’s a nation in debt, it’s a nation in doubt, it’s a nation in decline.  Or we can choose a better path, reapply those founding principles, reclaim the American idea, get people back to work and get the American idea of prosperity and opportunity in society back on track and that is exactly what we are going to do.”

Ryan also spoke about the concept, which he often does on the campaign trail, when he said “America is not just a piece of geography, it’s an idea.  You know it’s the only country founded on an idea and that idea is precious.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio