By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If the enthusiastic crowd was any evidence, Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan has lots of friends here — and in his first sit-down TV interview in Pennsylvania, Ryan told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano that he vacationed in Pittsburgh as a kid.

“My dad took us here for a week once in the summer when we were kids and spent a week going around,” he said.

On Tuesday, he admitted it was a little weird for a Green Bay Packers fan to wave the Terrible Towel at his Carnegie rally.

“You know, I remember the Super Bowl a couple years ago where all you saw was a sea of these yellow Terrible Towels,” he said. “They’re kind of intimidating to be honest with you as an NFC guy, but it’s a great program. I went to Miami of Ohio which is where Ben Roethlisberger went, so I’ve followed his career a long time,” Ryan added.

But Ryan turned serious when you talk about this upcoming presidential election.

“I think the president has really taken us down the wrong path. I think his leadership has been an utter failure.”

And the Republican says the recent controversy over rape, abortion and accusations the Republicans have waged “war on women” is a distraction.

“The war on women is the economy,” Ryan said. “The poverty rate among women has spiked the most among any group. The people who have hurt the most in this economy, in the Obama economy, are women.”

And while Ryan has been attacked for his plan to privatize Medicare for those under 55, the congressman says Pennsylvania seniors have nothing to fear.

“Seniors in Pennsylvania should know that we are not going to change their Medicare benefits. They should be relieved that we’re going to take control of this situation.”

Ryan says it’s Obamacare that threatens Medicare, not his plan to let younger folks opt out of the program.

And, no surprise, Ryan says this region is a must-win for the Republican ticket.

“I feel like I really identify with western Pennsylvania,” he said. “I’m a Catholic deer hunter. They’re a lot of people like that here. We have historic football franchises and so I really think that people here in western Pennsylvania, they know better. They know that the country is at risk. They know that we can’t keep spending money we don’t have.”

“They know President Obama has failed, and I think they want to vote for people who are offering solutions to get people back to work. That’s what Mitt Romney is doing.”

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