Mitt Romney should have known that Paul Ryan is a risky choice. Paul Ryan's contempt for the "little man" (the "middle class", so to speak) came to light in a video clip from September 2011 which during the last 24 hours went viral and was picked up by numerous blogs. Already in September 2011, reports about this event were published, for example by Huffington Post - but with Paul Ryan now being the presumptive Republican nominee for Vice President, it is time for a "second look."
71-year-old retiree Tom Nielsen belonged to a group of protesters who bought tickets for a "pay-per-view" speech by Paul Ryan at the Whitnell Park Rotary Club in Greenfield, Wisconsin which took place on September 6, 2011. According to Nielsen, about 20 protesters bought tickets for 15 dollars each in order to listen to the speech. Tom Nielsen, just like several protesters before him, at some point during Ryan's speech started to shout in order to voice his protest against Paul Ryan's views. After a few seconds, Nielsen was forcefully arrested and wrestled to the ground by police, despite letting the policemen know that he he suffered from a broken shoulder just four weeks ago.
Paul Ryan then could not help himself and make an incredibly tasteless remark, after Tom Nielsen was brought out of the venue: "I hope he is taking his blood pressure medication."
Watch the short clip, which went viral:
In order to get a better picture about what happened during this event, I started to search for more clips and reports, and was successful. I found two more videos on news websites, which I now uploaded to youtube in order to make them more accessible. I also found an extensive radio interview with Tom Nielsen, which was conducted after the event.
Here are the other two clips, which give a better overall picture about what happened.
What is particularly striking is the fact that Paul Ryan actually made more jokes about the protesters at this event. One of their main points of criticism was that Paul Ryan is mostly available for his constituents at such "pay per view" events, in which Paul Ryan can conveniently hide behind the protection of "private property" and can get protesters removed immediately. Paul Ryan jokes in the first clip from the 2:35 mark that "At least the Rotary Club got 15 dollar out of them" - another tasteless remark by this man who had just explained to his audience that America's biggest problem are apparently the "entitlement programs."
However, even more interestingly, in the second clip he is then asked by a reporter what he thinks about the fact that people had to pay 15 dollars to see him, and he has the audacity to reply: "You got to take it up with the Rotarians" - as if he was suddenly not responsible any more. Isn't that just what America needs right now: A Vice-President who is not keen to take responsibility for his own actions!
More reports about this event at Whitnell Park Rotary Club can be found here, here and here.
Finally, I found an excellent radio interview which Tom Nielsen gave after his arrest. He was a guest at the "Rick Smith Show" - you can listen to the interview at their website.
America now needs to get to know the "real" Paul Ryan. We at Politicalgates will do our best during the next months to contribute to this effort.