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Commentary: Wisconsin's invested in Ryan

Published On: Sep 02 2012 02:51:04 PM CDT

By Ellen Foley
Special to Channel 3000

I am the only member of my family watching the political conventions. I still have hope that the conversations prompted by the pageantry will help us all govern our nation. The rest of my loved ones are tired of speeches after four years of tough times.

I hope I was not the only one intrigued this past week with Wisconsin's own exuberant Paul Ryan at the Republican National Convention. A member of Congress from Janesville, Wis., Ryan was described by Mitt Romney are someone from a small town with a big heart.

The vice presidential candidate is not a stranger to Madison. Often when he came home to visit his constituents, he would stop by the Wisconsin State Journal when I was editor between 2004 and 2008.

I remember the last time I saw him in person. It must have been 2007 or 2008. He was on the stump with his new plan to slim down government by streamlining Medicare. I remember thinking that he had done a tremendous amount of work and that I needed to study the plan in depth.

He shot to the elevator by himself after an hour of tough questioning, and I trotted after him to ask about his family. He stood exhausted, mirrored by the shiny elevator doors with his arms across his gut and slightly bowed. I was concerned he might pass out.

It was quickly obvious that like an athlete hitting the finish line, Ryan was coming out of "the zone" and he needed a moment to come back from the gruelling campaign trail.

After a few seconds, he looked up. We chatted, shook hands and parted. He drove to Janesville for his next stop.

The pundits have been hard on Ryan since Romney chose him. The critique of the vice presidential hopeful's speech to the convention was blistering with his opponents calling him a liar.

I do hope the grayer heads in the GOP pull in the reins a bit on the hunky and creative Ryan. He's only harming his future with fuzzy facts and poorly researched attacks on his opponents.

I give Ryan credit for his monk-like piety to smaller government, which fuelled his innovative plan and his one-man campaign stops to Madison before he was even a twinkle in the Secret Service's eye.

I'm not sure I agree with it all. But he's got my attention again, and I will study how his new boss, Mitt Romney, edits Ryan's brand of small town, big hearted Young Republican thought.  

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