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Sunday, November 6, 2016

 5:15 PM 

Johnson makes pitch to voters at Packers tailgate

GREEN BAY -- As the clock counts down to Tuesday's election, Senator Ron Johnson didn't just ask football fans to vote for him outside Lambeau Field in Green Bay Sunday, he asked them to recruit others inside the stadium.

The Republican lawmaker expects a tight race and said every vote counts. He gave supporters a stack of campaign cards, saying he was "deputizing" them to hand them out to at least 12 fans inside the Green Bay Packers' home before a mid-afternoon kickoff.

Johnson arrived mid-morning, parking his campaign bus outside The Distillery tavern and restaurant in shadow of Lambeau. His crew fired up a grill and offered free pizza and brats to the crowds that came to greet the candidate and pose for photos.

The senator didn't give a formal address. Instead, he held a can of Miller Lite beer and chatted casually with fans.

"Every area of the state is crucial," he said. "What better place to be than Green Bay on game day?"

Johnson downplayed the possible impact of early voting in the state, which has hit a record, especially in Dane County, a Democratic stronghold.

State estimates show about 775,000 absentee ballots had been turned into election officials by late last week, already significantly more than the more than 680,000 returned by Election Day 2012.

"I think people who turn out early, are decided voters, and they're going to vote anyway," he said. "I think we all agree we should make voting easy, but should also make it very difficult to cheat. So, no, I have no fears in terms of early voting results. We've been trying to get encourage our people too."

He suggested the timing of when early voting started in some areas might have distorted the results, but did not say early voting should be limited.

"Listen, I'm a traditionalist, I like to go down to the polling place I've been doing to for 30 years," Johnson said. "I'm just a traditionalist that way."

His visit to Green Bay is a "get out the vote" stop, he said. 

"I think that's what the past few weeks have been," Johnson said. "I think the undecided voters are going to wait until the last minute anyway, because they want to hear what people have to say."

-- By Patti Zarling




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