Homespun welcome for Ryan in Janesville
August 27th, 2012
05:17 PM ET
10 years ago

Homespun welcome for Ryan in Janesville

Janesville, Wisconsin (CNN) – Back in his high school gym in Janesville, Rep. Paul Ryan's voice cracked when he recognized so many familiar faces in the crowd.

"It's very moving," said Paul as he looked around the packed gym that included family, friends and acquaintances, as well as homemade signs and people, including his son Sam, who were wearing cheesehead hats spray-painted with Romney-Ryan logos.

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His first hometown rally since he became Mitt Romney's running mate on August 11 was supposed to be a send-off rally for the Tampa-bound vice presidential nominee who is scheduled to deliver his speech to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night.

Like so many people whose travel plans got postponed because of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is churning into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, Ryan and his family will travel to Tampa on Tuesday as opposed to Monday evening.

"And while we take stock of our community, I think we should right now put in our minds and our prayers the people who have been victims of Hurricane Isaac and those who will stand in the path of the storm," said Ryan.

His remarks Monday offer a glimpse into themes he might address in the convention speech he has been crafting for weeks with speechwriters John McConnell and Matthew Scully.

"Friends, family this is a defining moment for our country. This is not an ordinary election this is 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," he said.

As an example of the town's resilience, Ryan talked about General Motors closing an assembly plant after the 2008 economic crash that cost the area thousands of jobs.

"You know we always used to say as GM goes so goes Janesville. Do you remember that statement? You know what? We've been hit hard, we got a hard knock, but we are hardy people and we will recover from this."

He talked about a couple of friends who lost jobs but learned new skills. "That's the kind of thing we need to do is pick ourselves up, help people in need, give them the job training skills they have, flourish entrepreneurs and small businesses so that people can get back on their feet," Ryan said.

Ryan and wife Janna are raising their three children, 10-year-old Liza, 9-year-old Charlie and 7-year-old Sam in the same neighborhood he grew up in where they are surrounded by extended family members.

He said at one time he and his brother Tobin counted 67 cousins living in Janesville. "It helps you win a town like that," the seven-term congressman joked.

Near the beginning two hecklers briefly disrupted Ryan's speech but they were quickly drowned out by people shouting "USA!" and were blocked with Romney-Ryan campaign signs before local law enforcement escorted them out of the gym.

Ryan shared a story about his ancestors from Ireland, who like many other immigrants sought after a better life in the United States.

In his family's case it was a result of the potato famine in the 1850s.

"And it's not a unique story, it's the American story, and the reason our family came here, the reason everyone else's family came here is because of what this country stands for. America is not just a piece of geography, it's an idea," he said.

It was summertime when his great-great-grandfather settled in Wisconsin and bought a farm in Janesville. According to Ryan, it reminded him of Ireland.

"Then came winter and he said, 'Oh crap,'" Ryan delivered in his best Irish accent.

Growing up in Janesville, now with a population of more than 60,000, taught the vice presidential hopeful the importance of community and helping neighbors in need.

"And what we do in our communities is we look out for one another, that's what's so special, that's what government can't replace or displace," said Ryan before listing a number of non-profit groups in the area.

"We have crisis pregnancy centers, community nursing homes like Saint Elizabeth's," he added. "These are the things we do in our communities that bring us together, to help our neighbors in need. You know they call it a civil society. I call it Janesville, Wisconsin."

After the rally at Craig High School, Ryan was going to spend the rest of the day working on his convention speech, according to a campaign aide.

Asked how the speech was coming along, "It's going great," Ryan told CNN.

Last week Ryan reminded reporters that he used to be a speechwriter for New York Rep. Jack Kemp.

"I've done a lot of speechwriting the past, words matter a lot and I'm putting a lot of effort into them," he said on Aug. 22.

Filed under: Paul Ryan • Wisconsin
soundoff (40 Responses)

    We Get It, GOP. You Hate Women. We Get It.

    Mike Huckabee’sOne of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine. But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock.

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    Dan Quayle spoke at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. During his speech, he criticized the Murphy Brown character for "ignoring the importance of fathers by birthing a child alone"Quayle's remarks caused a public discussion on family values,

    August 27, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. Lar5

    Ryan, a true blue American patriot as opposed to those "welfare cheats and moochers.?
    Paul Ryan is the greatest moocher of all. He has never held a real job.As a career politician he has lived off the dole and on the backs of regular people forever. His heath care is subsidized by our government and as are his sensational retirement benefits. Now that is what I call mooching. He has he own government provided great safety net but would do away with it for all others. He is missing the very vital empathy gene that makes a person feel the pain and suffering of others.

    August 27, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Patrick

    Chris Matthews says it best, google "Matthews: Romney is ‘one of the bad guy" and watch Chris Matthew rip Romney apart.

    August 27, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. Rich Parks

    Janesville likes Ryan, That is the city where the stimulas plan Ryan hates now but loved and voted for then when it brought the money back home to Janesville. Thats the same stimulas plan the kept the great BUSH recession from turning into the great BUSH bread-line revisited DEPRESSION, all while the one who made it dumped it into the lap of Obama and now refuse to help him fill in this deep hole. That huge chicken bone (adams apple) Ryan has lodged in his throat and can't swallow is telling everyone as does his mouth when it moves, that he is lieing. Can't a GOP budget guru answer when the Willard Romeny budget will balance even days after he was asked this question? No responsible follow up for a guru. Seems he was burdened by a question the answer to which would make a prison for oneself.

    August 27, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  5. aflyer guy

    Ryan is a washington insider, and lying "yes man". He lies almost as much as romney does! He has a right-wing agenda ready to go if he gets in office, which he won't. The gop blames obama, but they voted no on everything he proposed the last 3 years!! The party of no! Obama will win, and the gop will be thrown out of congress, then forward progress can take place! Obama – 4 more years!!!!! Yeah!!!! Love those coming military cuts too! Give that money to the schools. Cut the militaRy by 50 percent for all I care!!! No more wars- we can't afford them with chinese borrowed money!

    August 27, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  6. Kenny K

    How did Paul Ryan become a budget expert? I did not see anything in his record that shows that he is such a smart guy. We need well educated people for such job because Ryan is too simplistic. I think some budget and economic formula may be too advance for him.

    August 27, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Donald in CA

    Ryan might be the bigges fraud in political history. Folks better wake up and hear what this fraud is really saying.

    August 27, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. Donkey Party

    Anyone else getting tired of right-wing stupidity? Let's just have another civil war so we can legally remove these sociopaths from society once and for all.

    August 27, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  9. Dumbpolitics

    Every time I see a picture of Little Paulie and Mr. Robme that's not a true picture of America. I grew up around Janesville, and I can tell you this picture is not a good representation of the population there. It's definately mostly his family there.

    August 27, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. Iamnotfooled

    Ryan says one thing in Wisconsin and does another in Washington. Etch- A- Sketch Jr.

    August 27, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |

    He got Social Security dependent money until 18 after his father passed away. I guess he doesn't remember getting that "welfare" or does he?

    August 27, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. Slightly Left of Center

    Hmmmm. I see Ryan draws a crowd about as diverse as Romney's.

    August 27, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  13. jaimie

    Romneyhood ............... Give to the rich take from the poor

    August 28, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  14. ValarMorghulis

    Atlas shrugged when he looked at Paul Ryan. Career politician attempting to tell other people how to live their lives. Deficit hawk who voted for all the evil bailouts, unfunded wars, huge expansion of Medicare Part D. What a pathetic excuse and a perfect partner for Mitt Witt Romney.

    August 28, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  15. JayHobeSound


    Did they roll out the Ryan Corporation earth moving equipment for a parade? From which of the several states in which Ryan corp operates did the earth moving equipment originate? Strip mining, deforestation, whatever is needed to exploit the land in the quest for profits. Probably much of the equipment is registered to the Florida 'front' office to take advantage of Florida's very generous zero state income tax and very lax business taxes.

    Even trotting his own mother out to shill for his Medicare austerity – as if the sheeple will believe that a multimillionaire matriarch would be relying on Medicare. Paul Ryan is a proud azz clown.

    August 28, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
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