DES MOINES, Iowa – Paul Ryan received a rowdy reception at his appearance at the Iowa State Fair today with some protesters trying to storm the stage as the newly minted vice presidential candidate spoke. But Ryan soldiered on in his speech, even telling ABC News his Wisconsin background prepped him for the hecklers.
“Nah. We’re used to it. I come from Wisconsin,” Ryan said of the hecklers as he weaved through the fair.
Surrounded by hay bales lining the stage, Ryan spoke at the soapbox, an Iowa state fair staple, where Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, was heckled last year after making a comment that has stuck with him throughout this campaign.
“Corporations are people, my friend,” Romney said last year on the same stage, as protesters shouted him down.
Ryan’s stop at the fair was his first solo trip as Romney’s running mate, and he was greeted by a crush of supporters, media and protesters.
As he made his way to the famous Iowa Fair soapbox, he was surrounded by cameras, reporters and those trying to get a look at the GOP ticket’s No. 2 man. He shook hands and introduced himself to voters with a casual statement: “Hi, I’m Paul.”
Ryan’s first foray into Iowa came on the same day when President Obama began his bus tour through the Hawkeye state.
“I heard that President Obama is starting his bus tour today and I heard he wasn’t going to come to the Iowa State Fair,” Paul said.
“Are you going to cut Medicare?” a woman shouted.
“It’s funny because Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another and peaceful with one another and listen to one another. These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin,” Paul said, referring to the protesters.
And that’s when things got much rowdier. A female protester began to climb on the small stage. She was able to get up before being dragged off by Ryan’s Secret Service detail.
Ryan, dressed in a red checked shirt and jeans, continued with his pitch to the rest of the crowd, many holding Romney signs or even standing in front of protesters.
“My guess is the reason that President Obama isn’t making it here from Council Bluffs is he only knows left turns, but as you see the president come through on his bus tour you may ask him the same question I get asked all over America and that is where are the jobs Mr. President.”
An older male protester with a white beard was also heckling Ryan, telling him to, “End the wars” and “Stop the wars on the common good.”
Ryan also tried to identify with the voters in this battleground state.
“I feel such kindred spirits here,” the Wisconsin congressman, 42, said. “We are united as upper midwesterners, but, you know what it is? At the end of the day, we are Americans.”
Ryan was joined at the fair by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, as well as Romney friend and confidante Bob White.
As Ryan walked out the state fair along Grand Avenue, a protester on the side yelled at him, calling him a “f—ing disgrace.”
But it wasn’t just protests that met Ryan. Supporters reached out their hands to touch Ryan and shouted words of encouragement to the vice presidential candidate.
“I think he’s conservative. He’s right on the money,” one woman told ABC News. “He’s correct on the money, and we need to cut back, stop spending money that we don’t have.”
“Did you see his blue eyes?” one woman shouted at another after Ryan passed her.
And many people at the fair still didn’t know quite who Ryan was two only days after he joined the Republican ticket.
“He’s cute right?” one man jokingly said to his friend
“I guess so,” another woman said.
While he participated in the typical campaign fare of shaking hands and stopping to talk to babies, the health conscious Ryan stayed away from one of the fairs staples: fried food.
He stopped to talk to voters at a few stands, but didn’t sample any of the tasty fried treats.