Among politicians, political reporters, and other Washington insiders, Wisconsin Rep. and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is fairly well known. For many in the general public, though, this is the first time they have heard in-depth discussion about Romney’s running mate. Here are ten interesting facts about the rising Republican star.
In high school, he worked at McDonald’s
However, his manager believed he didn’t have the social skills to work the front counter, so he was stuck working the grill. It’s been a long trip from grill cook to candidate for vice president.
He also once drove the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile
While in college, Ryan had a sales job with the famous hot dog maker. Part of his work involved driving the famous Weinermobile around.
He’s a fitness buff
In an NPR interview last year, it was revealed that Ryan leads a group of Congressmen in grueling P90X workouts. Perhaps that’s no surprise, given another one of his pre-Congress jobs was as a trainer at the Washington Sport and Health Club.
In fact, he almost became a professional skier
In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Ryan said he had to make a choice between skiing and government. When asked if he regretted choosing government, he said “Sometimes.”
He’s a fan of classical music and classic rock
Known for putting in his headphones to ignore reporters, his music preferences include Beethoven and Led Zeppelin.
He has a coffee habit
In a 2010 interview with Politico’s Mike Allen, Ryan told the report he drinks two cups of coffee every day. Contrast that with Romney, whose Mormon faith forbids him from consuming coffee or tea.
He’s written speeches for a previous VP candidate
He began working as a speechwriter and policy analyst for Jack Kemp, the former Congressman and professional football player in 1993. More specifically, Ryan worked on behalf of Kemp’s Empower America, an organization that supported supply-side economic policies. Ryan eventually wrote speeches for Kemp when Dole selected him as his running mate in 1996.
Ayn Rand is required reading for his staff
In a speech he gave to a group of Ayn Rand fans called the Atlas Society in 2005, Ryan said that Rand’s works were required reading by his office staff and interns. However, he does not support the Objectivist author’s belief in atheism.
He voted for TARP and auto bailouts
Despite his reputation as an extreme fiscal conservative, Ryan did vote in favor of the $700 billion TARP bailout for Wall Street and the auto industry bailouts. Why did he vote in favor of these bills?
“TARP…in order to prevent a Depression and a complete evisceration of the free market system we have, I think it was necessary. Auto. Really clear. The president’s chief of staff [Josh Bolten] made it extremely clear to me before the vote, which is either the auto companies get the money that was put in the Energy Department for them already — a bill that I voted against because I didn’t want to give them that money, which was only within the $25 billion, money that was already expended but not obligated — or the president was going to give them TARP, with no limit.”
His father died young
Ryan’s father, also named Paul Ryan, passed away at the age of 55. Both Ryan’s father and grandfather died of heart attacks in their 50s. Because Ryan’s father died young, he was able to collect Social Security survivor’s benefits. He saved that money and put it towards attending Miami (Oh.) University, where he graduated in 1992 with a double major in economics and political science.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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