COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State may not be in town today, but it’s still game day and Paul Ryan stopped by a sports bar here to greet fans and voters in this crucial battleground state, as well as have a Miller Lite and watch some of the game with his wife, Janna.
Dressed in a jacket with Ohio State colors of scarlet and gray, Ryan greeted a crowd of diehard Ohio State fans at the Varsity Club, a bar located just 500 yards away from the stadium. It was not only game day, but also parents’ weekend and the bar was teeming with students and more than a few parents, all dressed in scarlet and gray T-shirts, sweatshirts, and jerseys.
It was mostly a receptive audience to the GOP vice presidential nominee and he took photos and shook hands, introducing himself as “Paul” to the packed bar who greeted him with, “Paul Ryan is here!”
Despite the jacket, he remained truthful to students he met, telling them over and over that he did go to Miami of Ohio in Oxford, and that while he is a Big Ten fan, he is loyal to his University of Wisconsin Badgers.
“I’m more of a Badger fan, but it’s all Big Ten right?” Ryan said to a female student wearing an Ohio State T-shirt.
Although almost everyone was excited to see the House Budget Chairman — several telling him they were eager to vote for him — there was at least one table that was less than enthusiastic. When Ryan made his way to a group of four girls one told him, “Hey you’re in the way!” referring to the large television screens surrounding the bar that were playing the Ohio State vs. Michigan State game.
Ryan quickly responded, “Have a good game, all right?”
Ryan then went outside to the patio where he bought a man a beer who identified himself as a Marine who was stationed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and did “partnering” with Afghan soldiers.
“I’ll tell all my Marines I got to have a beer with you. Cheers,” the Marine told Ryan before the two clinked beer bottles.
Several fans offered to buy the congressman a beer, but he declined each time, citing congressional ethics rules. He did show one student his “lucky Buckeye” given to him by Ohio senator and Barack Obama debate prep stand-in for Mitt Romney, Rob Portman.
At the end of the stop, Ryan left the bar and posed with three female students who were pre-positioned to take a photo with Ryan in the famous O-H-I-O sign. Ryan was the “H” grinning and putting his hands up. He yelled “O-H” and the students shouted back “I-O!” He added, “I love that.”
The photo was likely a dig at the president who while visiting the campus of Ohio State last month posed for the same picture and while he was also the “H,” the four letters were at first out of order, spelling “O-I-H-O,” before it was quickly corrected.
It’s not the candidate’s first stop on the campaign trail to Ohio State. On Sept. 1 he went to see his Miami of Ohio Redhawks take on the Ohio State Buckeyes at their home opener. Ohio State hasn’t lost a home opener in 34 years and this was no different. His alma matter got crushed by the Buckeyes 56-10.
Ryan is in Columbus to speak at a dinner and rally for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a group of hunters and fishermen.