MOORESVILLE, N.C. — One of Mitt Romney’s criticisms of President Obama is that he’s never had a real job so he doesn’t understand how businesses work. So his selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate presents a bit of a rhetorical challenge – the seven-term Wisconsin congressman has worked in the nation’s capital for nearly his entire adult life.
Romney touched upon his running mate’s lengthy residence in the nation’s capital during a raucous rally here on Sunday, saying that Ryan felt compelled put aside his own interests and go to Washington because he recognized the perils the nation would face because of its spending addiction.
“His career ambition was not to go to Washington, that is not what he wanted to do,” Romney told more than 1,700 supporters at a NASCAR facility. (Thousands more waited outside.) “But he became concerned about what was happening in the country and wanted to get America back on track, and so he put aside the plans he had for his career and said, 'I’m going to go and serve.' And he’s gone there and he’s put country and policies to get America right again ahead of ambition.”
Politics does not appear to be an accidental profession for Ryan – he majored in political science at Miami University in Ohio and has worked in politics since he interned for a Wisconsin senator’s D.C. office while in college. His first job after graduation was on Capitol Hill. He moved back to Wisconsin for two years to work in his family’s business just before he ran for Congress, in 1998.
In Washington, D.C., Ryan was long viewed as ambitious. When he was a staffer, many expected him to one day run for elected office, as noted by this Politico article, which dubs Ryan a “creature of the Capitol.”
Romney offered the gentle defense of Ryan’s background during the second day of their joint tour of swing states, at a NASCAR mechanics’ training school. More than 1,700 people were jammed inside, and thousands more waited outside.
Romney stood in front of a red, white and blue race car emblazoned with his name and campaign logo, which he admired when he took the stage.
“I look back here at this car, I’ll tell you, you see as a boy, my dad made Ramblers and I only dreamed of cars like that,” he said, referring to his father George’s tenure as head of American Motors. “To have my name on a car like that is just too much.”
Romney and Ryan plan to spend the rest of Sunday campaigning in North Carolina and Wisconsin before parting to stump separately until the GOP convention in late August.