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Former Wisconsin Reporter Recalls Paul Ryan's Congressional Career

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As Ohioans start to pay closer attention to Mitt Romney's choice for a running mate, Paul Ryan, we noted that the Wisconsin Congressman has carried his district by a two-thirds majority -or very close to it - since his first election in 1998. Even when the district swung for Obama in the 2008 Presidential contest, Ryan still got 64 percent support. We asked ideastream reporter Brian Bull -- who worked for public radio in Wisconsin several years -- what might account for that?

Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 11:50 pm

"For one thing, Ryan projects a charismatic, sharp, and organized image that bodes well for any politician," says Bull. "His small city demeanor has carried him well in his hometown of Janesville, and in Congress. A career politician, but one who constituents say remains close to his district and his roots. He still goes to his neighborhood Catholic Church, he's a hunter...he's strict about his physical fitness, sleeps in his office in Washington, and flies back to Wisconsin nearly every week.

"He argues passionately for conservative initiatives, but he doesn't mire himself in partisan sniping or name calling, as say, fellow Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner or former VP candidate Sarah Palin have done. Often those on the opposite side of the political fence describe Ryan as approachable and likeable. All this may be part of his appeal beyond diehard Republicans.

"Ryan also operates from intellectual gravitas. Wonkish at times, he's ready and comfortable with sharing his numbers. His mastery of budget details and his willingness to be specific about cuts and exactly how he would shrink government, has made him a favorite among colleagues in the House. Those things too earn him respect at home.

"And one more reason Ryan has won larger victories than presidential candidates of both parties in his district, is because the Democrats have consistently failed to present a challenger who has the presence -- and war chest -- of Ryan.

"Now, whether any of this will cause voters in Ohio to give the Romney-Ryan ticket a second look is far from clear."

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