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Paul Ryan's Colleagues Weigh In on His Debate Potential: If One Were Joe Biden, 'I'd Be Hiding Under My Bed'

"He wins you over by reason"~ GOP Rep. Tom McClintock on how GOP Vice Presidential candidate Ryan deals with dissent in politics.


As part of our October issue, Townhall provided an in-depth look at the man currently running for vice president of the United States. We talked to his colleagues, people from his home state of Wisconsin, and policy and polling experts to dissect everything from Ryan's record in Congress to how he affects November's electoral map to his interests away from politics. Nowhere was the testament to Ryan's attributes more favorable than among his GOP colleagues, who interact with him in one of the most politically charged environments in the nation.  In light of the approaching vice presidential debates, enjoy this timely and relevant excerpt from Townhall Magazine's October feature on Paul Ryan entitled, "Real Change," where several of Ryan's colleagues handicap his debating chops  :

The Debates: If One Were Joe Biden, ‘I’d Be Hiding Under My Bed’

While his affability may be a cornerstone of his personality, Ryan can easily slip into an attack-dog role, especially when the matter at hand concerns the future of America. Ryan’s analytical and intellectual capacity will unquestionably make him a discernible foe in the vice presidential debate in October. Recalling a trip he and Ryan took to Afghanistan in December, fellow budget committee member and Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah says people will also be surprised by Ryan’s depth of knowledge regarding foreign policy in the debate. In sum, if he were Joe Biden, GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California aptly states, “I’d be hiding under my bed.”


Fortunately, the attack-dog nature required in elections is not indicative of Ryan’s potential for bipartisanship. The chairman’s unfeigned desire for collaboration, coupled with his sincerity, unassuming and humble manner, have been the impetus behind his ability to work across the aisle. As examples, Price points to Ryan’s work on Medicare reform with Rivlin and Wyden.

Although Ryan is undoubtedly a career politician, currently serving his seventh term in Congress, it’s important to appreciate that moving to the executive level is never what Ryan sought, Price tells Townhall. It’s a position that sought him.

“He’s everything you look for in somebody in politics—he’s there for all the right reasons,” Chaffetz says.

What His Colleagues Say: “He Wins [You ] Over By Reason”

When it comes to the budget and appropriations, “Paul’s the smartest guy on the Hill,” says Chaffetz. But Ryan’s intelligence is not self-serving. In meetings, his compatriots describe him as an educator—able to break down the most complex issues, provide context for how the nation fell into difficult times and include others in a discussion about the best options for a way forward.

After sitting in on a number of “listening sessions” with Ryan, in which he explained his Path to Prosperity budget, House Deputy Majority Whip Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois says he was impressed by Ryan’s capability to teach.


“He listens to what people say, and he responds substantively to what they’re saying, but he does it in a way that the person who’s posing the question isn’t belittled,” says Roskam. “Paul Ryan has been marinating in the budget for the past 14 years. … And it would be an easy thing for him to be dismissive or flippant if he chose to be, but he’s not. Instead, he’ll listen, he’ll follow through and give you a substantive answer, and that is why I think he was very successful in persuading a majority of his colleagues to go along with his budget.”

His knowledge is also part of his rapport with constituents.

“The interaction there, the depth of his knowledge—when he’s dealing with constituents, he’s never stumped. He always has an answer,” Himebauch says.

Ryan “brings a wealth of knowledge that really is maybe unparalleled in our nation’s capital,” Rep. Tom Price of Georgia tells Townhall.

Price explains that Ryan engages his colleagues in one-on-one conversation to learn about what people’s greatest concerns and priorities are. Nevertheless, in politics, there will always be opposition. Speaking laconically, McClintock says Ryan deals with dissent the old-fashioned way: “He wins it over by reason.”

Around his compatriots, Ryan is “perpetually happy” and has a great sense of humor. He’s also one of the most down to earth, sincere and genuine people McClintock’s ever met.


Fitness expert Tony Horton, who created the P90x series that Ryan famously uses, talked about the vice presidential candidate’s friendliness when Horton visited Capitol Hill. The bipartisan invitation initially came from Ryan and Democrat Rep. Heath Schuler, and Horton has since been back several times.

Ryan was friendly and “super enthusiastic,” says Horton, who had heard of his hosts but wasn’t overly familiar with them before the invitation came.

Horton, who recently launched tonyhortonkitchen.com as a place where customers can order healthy, prepared meals to help maintain a sound diet, has remained apolitical in the buzz that’s since developed around the workout routine, praising individuals in both parties when it comes to commitment to fitness—but that doesn’t stop him from unabashedly speaking highly of the vice presidential candidate. ...


Can't get enough of Paul Ryan? Read more of our in-depth feature by ordering the October issue of Townhall Magazine.


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