Romney the ‘varmint’ hunter joins Ryan the bow hunter

Presidential candidates often choose vice presidential partners, like good spouses, to fill in the places where they are weak. So it should not be a surprise that a notorious “small varmint” hunter like Mitt Romney picked as his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, who instantly gives the Republicans a step up into the world of big-boy hunting.

Raised in a world of affluence and suburban splendor as the son of an American auto executive, Romney’s stab at playing everyman outdoorsman landed flat in his first run for president. “I’m not a big-game hunter,” the candidate announced in 2007. “I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then.”

If that’s how Romney & Co. rolled back in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., it was quite a different sort of hunting depicted in Saturday’s rollout of the Ryan candidacy. A Romney press release of just eight paragraphs introduced the 42-year old Wisconsin native as “an avid outdoorsman” and member of “his local archery association, the Janesville Bowmen.”

PHOTOS: Paul Ryan’s past


A quick flash to Ryan’s Facebook page delivers you a photo of Ryan — in full cammo and muddied boots — proudly posing with a big, hearty buck deer.

At the Janesville bow hunting website, other club members pose with all manner of deceased fauna — a bear, a wild boar, turkeys and many a fine-looking deer. Not a rodent or small varmint anywhere in the gallery.

Big-city types can chuckle about this sort of profile, but in states that will probably determine the presidential outcome — namely Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado, to name a few — outdoor enthusiasts wield considerable clout.

A message quickly went up on Ryan’s Facebook page Saturday morning. “We at Hunting and Fishing Maryland proudly endorse the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Team for President and Vice President of the United States of America. We will Raise our Flags High and once again be proud to say we are American.”

Romney had already moved to set the record straight on his hunting career. In a January debate he conceded he was not a “serious hunter” or a “great hunter,” though he had taken an elk hunting trip with friends in Montana. “I must admit,” Romney said. “I guess I enjoy the sport and when I get invited. I’m delighted to be able to go hunting.” If that doesn’t ring out as Ted Nugent-style blood lust, so be it. Romney has found his inner hunter and his name is Paul Ryan.

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