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Monday, August 13, 2012

For Ryan\'s First Solo Outing as Candidate, a Soapbox Appearance at the Iowa State Fair


DES MOINES - Representative Paul D. Ryan is going solo, and for his first outing alone as the Republican vice-presidential candidate he has chosen a particularly exposed high-wire appearance: a political soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.

Mr. Ryan, who parted ways with Mitt Romney in Milwaukee on Sunday evening after two days of joint campaigning, will appear Monday afternoon at a locale famous for unscripted give-and-takes with skeptical voters.

A year ago, Mr. Romney was challenged by the crowd at the Iowa State Fair and blurted out, “Corporations are people, my friend,” a line that came to haunt him.

The soapbox, on the Grand Concourse, is sponsored by The Des Moines Register. By tradition a candidate gets 20 minutes to speak and often takes questions from the crowd. Mr. Ryan, who excels at town-hall-style events in which his mastery of policy is on display, will have the opportunity to show his grace under pressure.

Last year, while still just one of many Republican contenders, Mr. Romney was aggressively challenged on his assertions about Medicare, Social Security and taxes. A heckler shouted a remark about corporations. “Corporations are people, my friend,” Mr. Romney replied. “Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.”

The lines achieved YouTube immortality and were repeated by critics to show Mr. Romney's supposed indifference to the little guy.

It was also one of rare events at which Mr. Romney took questions from an audience not composed of supporters controlled by his campaign.

On Saturday, Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa said he would escort Mr. Rya n around the fair. Most of the state's Congressional candidates are scheduled to speak on the soapbox this week. Tom Vilsack, the United States agriculture secretary, is to speak on behalf of President Obama on Tuesday morning.

While Mr. Ryan is from a neighboring state, Wisconsin, he is one of the few leading Republican figures who has rarely visited Iowa. When asked last year why he was a stranger, he said he didn't want to raise suspicions about his own political intentions.

Mr. Obama will also be in Iowa on Monday, beginning a three-day visit that will take him to many communities in the battle ground state â€" but so far, not to the State Fair soapbox.