Friends, foes like Ryan but disagree on politics
MILWAUKEE — Paul Ryan’s friends and opponents in Wisconsin and his hometown of Janesville are nearly unanimous in describing the congressman as likable and intelligent.
The common ground ends when it comes to his politics.
Democrats and Republicans alike say Ryan is serious, hard-working and has a solid grasp of budget issues. They agree he is cordial and charismatic and that he relates well to voters.
But there’s stark disagreement about his signature effort, a conservative budget plan to remake Medicare and cut trillions in federal spending. He is also emerging as a leading intellectual force in the conservative opposition to President Barack Obama, and has given little ground in negotiations over the federal budget and the deficit.
Those actions have made him a darling of conservative Republicans and tea party members, who say they’re elated that Mitt Romney has selected Ryan as his running mate.
Ryan “brings a record of leadership and personal integrity that we need in Washington,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. “Nobody understands the federal budget better than Paul, or has worked harder to develop and offer real solutions to the fiscal challenges facing America.”
Peter Barca, the Democratic minority leader in the Wisconsin state Assembly, previously represented the congressional district that Ryan does now.
“He’s an articulate, good-looking guy,” Barca said of Ryan. “He’d talk like a moderate in Wisconsin but it wasn’t until his last budget that people saw how extreme his views are.”
Even though Democrats may disagree with Ryan’s policies, they agree their dealings with him as a congressman are almost always cordial.