Paul Ryan

Updated August 10, 2023 | Infoplease Staff

Find out more about Mitt Romney's running mate for the 2012 presidential race

by Jennie Wood
Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

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Throughout the 2012 campaign season, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney struggled to rally the support of the party's conservative base. That is until he announced Rep. Paul Ryan would be his running mate. Ryan, an expert in economic policy and a fiscal and social conservative, has long been a favorite of the party's right wing.

A fifth-generation Wisconsin native, Paul Ryan was born and raised in the city of Janesville. After graduating from Miami University in Ohio, Ryan worked as an aide to legislators Bob Kasten, Sam Brownback, and Jack Kemp. He worked as a speechwriter for Kemp, who became his mentor. Ryan also worked as a speechwriter for Empower America, a conservative think tank.

Ryan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 and has won every re-election bid since. In January 2011, he became the chairman of the House Budget Committee. He introduced a controversial budget plan in April 2011 that proposed repealing President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, privatizing Medicare for people under age 55, turning Medicaid and the food stamp program over to the states as block grants, and cutting taxes for corporations and wealthy Americans. It wasn't Ryan's first budget plan, but it was the first to pass in the House of Representatives. The Senate, however, voted against the bill, 57 to 40.

Ayn Rand's Influence

Ryan has said that value system and beliefs were influenced by Ayn Rand, a controversial writer and philosopher who was a leader of Objectivism movement. At a 2005 meeting of the Atlas Society, a group of Rand devotees, he said, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand." In past years, Ryan has given Rand's Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents to his staff and, at one time, Rand's books were required reading for his interns. However, the president of the Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook, called Ryan a fiscal moderate and said that some of his proposals didn't match Rand's belief in limited government.

Ryan on the Issues

Ryan was a consistent supporter of George W. Bush's foreign policies. In 2002, he voted for the Iraq Resolution that authorized President Bush to use military force in Iraq. He has consistently voted to increase defense spending and in favor of troop surges. Ryan has stated that he's "as pro-life as a person gets" and voted to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning programs. Ryan also opposed the repeal of don't ask, don't tell and supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Ryan has supported the rights of gun owners, earning top grades from the National Rifle Associations, a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning, and a bill to withdraw the federal funding of National Public Radio. He voted against the DREAM Act, a bill providing permanent residency to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children as long as they attend college or serve in the military. Ryan criticized the Environmental Protection Agency's classification of carbon dioxide as a pollutant and has called for funding cuts to renewable energy research and subsidies.

Energizing the 2012 Presidential Campaign

On August 11, 2012, Mitt Romney introduced Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate. When introducing Ryan, Romney said, "Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party. He understands the fiscal challenges facing America." Raising $1.2 million dollars in just four hours after the announcement, Romney's campaign was immediately energized.

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