Sometimes politicians do stupid things, sometimes they take advantage of situations for political gain by having pictures taken with different groups or individuals, such as with veterans or school children, but according to news reports Republican Tea Party (GOTP) vice presidential wannabe Paul Ryan – the author of America’s own austerity plan – has stooped to new levels when his campaign stopped at a Youngstown, Ohio soup kitchen and reportedly, “ramrodded their way” in so the GOTP candidate could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall.
Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, told the Washington Post he wasn’t contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who “stopped by” the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University presumably to soften his Grinch-like persona by doing a little “charity” work.
“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”
“The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall,” he added.
According to the press pool reporter accompanying Ryan, the group stopped by the soup kitchen for about 15 minutes on its way to the airport after his Saturday morning town hall in Youngstown. But, by the time they arrived, the food had already been served, the patrons had left, and the hall had been cleaned.
Ryan, his wife and three young children greeted and thanked several volunteers as they entered the soup kitchen, then put on white aprons and offered to clean some dishes. Photographers snapped photos and TV cameras shot footage of Ryan and his family washing pots and pans that “did not appear to be dirty.”
Allegedly, at least according to an unnamed Romney aide – who wasn’t authorized to “speak publicly about the event” – the campaign followed its usual protocol for “impromptu, on-the-road stops by candidates”, meaning they assume whatever they want to do is going to be OK because after all they’re rich, wealthy republican candidates and can do whatever they wish. A staffer was allegedly dispatched to the St. Vincent De Paul Society ahead of Ryan’s visit Saturday morning and spoke with a woman in charge on site, who allegedly said it would be fine for the congressman to stop by. The woman on site allegedly told the Romney staffer some of the volunteers had already left, but most were happy to remain until Ryan arrived, according to the aide. After Ryan left the soup kitchen, the woman allegedly approached a campaign staffer and expressed gratitude for Ryan’s visit, the aide said.
Chris Maloney, Ohio communications director for the Romney campaign, said the visit by Ryan had been intended to “highlight the work of the soup kitchen volunteers.” So, that’s why we took bogus pictures of the congressman and his family washing already clean dishes to demonstrate just what a wonderful job the soup kitchen volunteers were doing?
Antal said the soup kitchen relies on funding from private individuals who might reconsider their support if it appears that the charity is favoring one political candidate over another.
“I can’t afford to lose funding from these private individuals,” he said. “If this was the Democrats, I’d have the same exact problem.”
He added that the incident had caused him “all kinds of grief” and that regardless of whether Ryan had intended to serve food to patrons or wash dishes, he wouldn’t have allowed the visit to take place, which might be why the campaign didn’t contact him, but just barged in.
“Had they asked for permission, it wouldn’t have been granted. … But I certainly wouldn’t have let him wash clean pans, and then take a picture,” Antal said.
It’s shameful, disingenuous and incredibly spurious for someone like Paul Ryan to take his family into a soup kitchen in an effort to make himself look like a “compassionate conservative” when he’d cut funding to help the poor in a heartbeat is beyond contempt; it’s another example of what the Romney/Ryan ticket isn’t rather than of what it is. Ryan’s not just a liar he’s also a phony.