In fact, the heckling at the speaking engagement Monday of just-selected Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was considerably more substantial than the media has suggested. From the onset, the crowd at the sunny and warm Iowa State Fair chanted “USA, USA, USA“ in an attempt to drown out the gentleman in the homey striped shirt, denim jeans, and cowboy boots.
In spite of his years in congress, seven terms in the House of Representatives, Ryan was more than a little flustered, particularly as two women mounted the County Fair stage repeating “Stop the war on the common good” and “Stop the war on the middle class.” Iowa State Troopers intervened, as Ryan made some effort to continue with his prepared address. He was able to quip that “It’s funny because Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another, peaceful with one other. These ladies must not be from Iowa or Wisconsin.” Voices in the crowd continued, “Are you going to cut Medicare?” The heckling continued throughout most of the speech.
Mixed opinions flew, as the throng of Republicans and Democrats bantered like the throngs at professional football contests when Green Bay meets Chicago. Many cheered when Ryan said, “One thing we’ve got to get straight is we’re not growing this economy like we need to.” But a half-breath later: “Another thing – we have people who are hurting in this country…” was hardly audible, drowned out by hoots and catcalls.
It was quite a day for Iowan state fair-goers; President Barack Obama, seeking reelection to the presidency in November, also put in a showing. Obama had a smoother reception; it doesn’t hurt to be the president of the United States. He arrived in the evening, about 7:30, stepping from a sleek black motorcoach. He headed with his cohorts and security to the Bud beer tent, where he and his staffers threw down a cool one. Senior advisor David Axelrod, highly visible on news channels over the past weekend, was on hand, as was Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa. As those present recall it, the crowd at the Bud tent called for “four more years!” and the president called for “four more beers!”