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Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan Greeted By Hecklers at Iowa State Fair


DES MOINES - Representative Paul D. Ryan received a raucous baptism into public speaking, State Fair-style, when he encountered determined hecklers on his first day of solo campaigning.

As Mr. Ryan spoke to a generally supportive crowd from an outdoor political soabox at the Iowa State Fair, protesters in front of him shouted slogans including “We are the 99 percent!'' Two women who tried to climb onstage were hustled away by security officers before they could unfurl a banner.

“It's funny, because Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another,'' Mr. Ryan said to the crowd, many holding “Romney” signs. “These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin.''

A day after parting ways with Mitt Romney following the Republican ticket's joint appearance at a giant staged rally outside Milwaukee, Mr. Ryan's visit here on Monday set off many side debates among audience members over his and Presi dent Obama's policies.

It was illustrative of how Mr. Ryan, a leader of House Republicans with detailed plans to alter cherished entitlement programs and cut taxes, has instantly become an ideological lightning rod in the presidential race.

Two women who followed him as he strolled through the fair argued over his plan to revamp Medicare into a set payment to individuals to buy insurance in the private market, which Mr. Ryan believes will save the program from insolvency.

“Vouchers are a cut in Medicare; you just wait, you'll lose money,'' Midge Slater argued.

“What are you going to do for my two grandchildren when we're broke,'' another woman told her, declining to give her name.

Mr. Ryan's short speech did not address two controversial subjects of concern to Iowans: a farm bill that is a victim of Congressional deadlock; and a tax credit to the wind industry, which Mr. Romney opposes but Iowa's Republican lea dership supports.

Instead, Mr. Ryan used his speech to attack Mr. Obama over a ruling that Republicans say would gut the work requirement at the heart of the federal welfare law of 1996.

“The work requirement in welfare reform did more to help the poor than any reform we've had in the last generation,'' Mr. Ryan said. “And President Barack Obama has just passed a rule waiving those work requirements, saying no longer do states actually have to have work requirements for people to receive welfare.''

The administration has said no waivers will be granted unless a state's program increases the number of aid recipients getting jobs compared to existing programs.

Mr. Ryan's embrace of the traditional role of a vice-presidential candidate as chief surrogate and attack dog seemed a work in progress. His criticism of Mr. Obama was not notably fierce, and his manner was easy-going. He seemed unfazed by the protesters who chanted through much of his speec h. He did not argue with them the way Mr. Romney did at the fair a year ago when he said, “Corporations are people, my friend,'' a line critics seized upon.

Mr. Ryan praised Mr. Romney's experience as a job creator in private business and ticked off the five-point plan the Romney campaign has advanced to speed economic recovery.

“We need to stop spending money we don't have,'' he said. “President Obama has given us four years of trillion-plus deficits. He's making matters worse and he's spending our children into a diminished future.''

Mr. Ryan looked comfortable: youthfully fit, dressed in jeans, a red checked shirt and scuffed cowboy boots. After stepping out of a black S.U.V., he unclipped his iPhone, whose case has a hunter's camouflage pattern, and handed it to an aide for safe-keeping while walking through the crowds.

Kay Pence, dressed in a frilly costume and calling herself the Tax Cut Fairy, followed along. “If we wish hard enough w e can cut millionaires' taxes, raise military spending and balance the budget too,'' she said.

Mr. Ryan strolled with Governor Terry E. Branstad and Representative Steve King, leading Iowa Republicans.

“You have to see the butter cow here, this is a big deal,'' Mr. King told him, mentioning the century-old fair's most famous attractions, a large sculpture in butter.

Mr. Ryan was unfamiliar with it. “You mean fried butter?'' he said.

“No, no,'' Mr. King said. “This is cultured cow milk.''

“Is it a Holstein, Guernsey, Jersey or what?'' Mr. Ryan asked.

Mr. King didn't know. “Have you ever seen a butter cow?'' he asked the newcomer.

“No I haven't. I've milked a cow though.''